US Vs Babar Ahmad Part 4:
To be signed or not to be signed, that is the question?
Monday 18 April 2005
Court commenced at 10.30am.
Babar was present in person accompanied by four Prison guards from HMP Belmarsh. Prosecution barrister John Hardy opened the hearing by addressing Judge Timothy Workman and dealing with the issue of the assurance. The assurance in question was produced in front of the Court and concerned four main areas. These included Babar not being subject to the death penalty, Babar being tried before a Federal Court and not being subject to Military Commission and lastly Babar not being designated as an enemy combatant. John Hardy attempted to convince Judge Timothy Workman that the assurance provided by the Embassy of the United States of America in London , was a perfectly valid assurance and binding on the U.S. Government and all its State Departments. He argued that it had come from one of the UK ‘s ‘sovereign and friendly’ allies.
John Hardy vehemently stressed that the assurance given by the U.S. Embassy in London was a sufficient assurance. In light of the strong U.K.-U.S. relationship, dating back to many decades, Hardy argued that it would be absurd to think that two ‘mature democratic’ countries would not fulfil their obligations to one another.
When does a ‘mature democracy’ equal justice?
John Hardy then mentioned that the diplomatic note before the court is written in the third person, that addresses the Foreign Secretary and it is customary practice that such an assurance is therefore unsigned and is in the third person as a collective expression from one country to another.
Edward Fitzgerald then stated that it is effectively like giving an envelope with the evidence. The contents are more important than the envelope. Therefore it needs to be signed in order for it to stand as apiece of evidence. Edward Fitzgerald QC continued his argument on the grounds that the Court had before them an assurance which was neither signed nor attributed to any one individual from the Embassy. “What is the validity of this piece of paper in America ? What would it do for Mr Ahmad if he waves this around in a court?” Fitzgerald asked. Essentially there was no way of telling who it was actually coming from and therefore it was unknown who was actually taking responsibility for it.
The four main areas of concern for the Defence in relation to the assurance were the death penalty, Military Commission, Rendition and Special Administrative powers. The Defence argued that it was not a valid assurance on the grounds that it did not mention President Bush hence it does not legally bind him, to class someone as an enemy combatant who is then subject to Military Commission, nor the Attorney General who can bring forward the death penalty. It was also stated that the images presented by the Prosecution of the collapse of diplomatic relations was a joke. He then went on to say that we need to tread very carefully when it comes to the U.S. as they have no regard for diplomatic relations, for example declaring the Geneva Conventions as ‘obsolete’. Various legal arguments were put forward by the Defence Counsel including a third affidavit by Mr Thomas Loflin III, the American legal expert.
Mr Loflin set out in his affidavit the fact that an assurance from the U.S Embassy was not binding on the U.S. Government and this particular one also did not mention the possibility of Rendition. Rendition was explained as the secret transfer of an individual from the U.S. to another country where torture is a widely practised to extract intelligence information. Such individuals were then labelled ‘Ghost Detainees’ as there whereabouts would be unknown. Such a request for Rendition could easily take place by the C.I.A asking the President to give his authorisation after an individual had been extradited. Edward Fitzgerald QC said that it is nearly impossible to argue this, as the U.S government denies that these events even take place. There are volumes of evidence from the likes of Amnesty International and the New York Times mentioning this specific issue (for more information: http://www.stoppoliticalterror.com/articlesingle.php?article=1125 ). If Babar were to be extradited there would essentially be no way of knowing if he had been subject to Rendition. It was then argued that Rendition was a real possibility in Babar’s case and cases were brought up where this in fact had taken place.
In simple terms Edward Fitzgerald QC asked Judge Timothy Workman to rule whether the assurance was in fact something that the Court was satisfied with, in which case Mr Loflin would therefore not be needed to attend the next hearing on 20 April 2005 . Judge Timothy Workman then decided to rise at 12.00pm and the hearing would continue at 2pm .
The hearing reconvened at 2pm and Judge Timothy Workman ruled that he accepted the assurance as a piece of evidence but that he would want to listen to the rest of the evidence before he would make a judgement. Therefore Mr Loflin would be invited to attend the hearing on 20 April 2005 in order for him to give oral evidence with respect to the third affidavit that was filed against the assurance.
Edward Fitzgerald QC then went on to request that Judge Timothy Workman rule on whether a prima facie case could be argued, in which case the Prosecution would need to provide evidence to the Court to support the extradition request. This was in relation to whether it was right to extradite Babar Ahmad where there will be a flagrant denial of justice, discrimination due to his race and religion, placed in solitary confinement, arbitrary detention and in light of the Law Lords decision to hold people indefinitely without trial would be wholly unacceptable.
Judge Timothy Workman then adjourned the hearing until Wednesday 20 April 2005 in anticipation of Mr Thomas Loflin III, the American expert for the Defence, to give his evidence.
Standing Firmly For Justice