Monday, July 17, 2006

today : things you will never read


Big business, MPs and human rights campaigners united to condemn the Government’s new extradition policy with the US after The Blackburn Three lost a landmark High Court battle to avoid being extradited to America on conspiracy charges.

Lord Justice Laws ruled that it would be “unduly simplistic” to treat the case as a purely English affair and that he could not refuse the request to extradite Mohammed Khan, Sarfraz Mohammed and Akhtar Hussain for trial.

American prosecutors allege that the trio conspired with U.S. suspects in the USA to plan damage to U.S. interests

The judgment drew widespread fury from critics, who insisted it was a British case and should be tried in this country.

The CBI said that the ruling set a worrying precedent under which UK citizens could be extradited without proof that there was a case to answer.

Under the 2003 Extradition Act, America is able to demand a Briton’s extradition without having to provide any evidence. However, Britain has to prove its case in a US court to extradite US citizens to the UK.

Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrats’ Treasury spokesman, described the Extradition Act yesterday as “appalling” and “dreadfully one sided”.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, the human rights group, said Britain was “trading away the freedoms” of its citizens. “If we are wrong that this is a violation of fundamental rights, why will the US Government not allow similar traffic for its own citizens in the other direction?”
from The Times

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At the 11th hour, the extradition battle involving the three Pakistani immigrant suspects known as The Blackburn Three has taken a genuinely shocking turn. The apparent suicide of Abbas Mohammed - a colleague of Mohammed Khan, Sarfraz Mohammed and Akhtar Hussain, and potentially a key witness in the case against them - transforms the dynamics of this complex and sinister affair.

His death was announced just as MPs were debating the case (all credit to the Liberal Democrats for bringing it before the Commons) and the three accused were preparing to bid farewell to their families before this morning's flight to custody in a Texan jail. Surely this is the moment to stay the extradition and take stock.

The case against their forced removal to the United States remains unanswerable. The 2003 Extradition Act (which has not even been ratified by Congress yet) allows British citizens to be extradited to America without prima facie evidence. This makes the reciprocal arrangement dangerously one-sided.

In the Commons yesterday, Tony Blair disingenuously claimed the burden of proof is "roughly analogous" on both sides of the Atlantic. Legal experts say otherwise, warning that grave injustices could be done when America can request extradition without providing any evidence against a suspect.

The case of the Blackburn Three is another depressing example of Mr Blair's craven eagerness to do Washington's bidding. The treaty has led to many more British citizens being extradited to the United States to face trial (and yes, the majority of them have not been charged with terrorism) than American citizens being extradited to this country.

This country may have a feeble reputation for dealing with crime, but allowing the accused men - who vehemently protest their innocence - to be hauled off to await trial in custody for a year or more both delays justice and denies them the proper opportunity to prepare their defence.

In the Commons yesterday, the Government was roundly defeated on the arguments. Ministers from Mr Blair down simply appear desperate to wash their hands of the case. This is shabby behaviour. The Blackburn Three may well have a case to answer, but should be able to do so in this country, where the crime, if any, was committed.

from The Daily Telegraph


The only thing I changed here were the names and the accusations

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