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Habeas and the case of Mohammed Munaf

Jonathan Hafetz [Associate Counsel at the Brennan Center and attorney for Mohammed Munaf]: "On Oct. 12, 2006, Mohammed Munaf, an American citizen, was convicted and sentenced to death by a criminal court in Iraq for his alleged role in a kidnapping. Mr. Munaf maintains his innocence. According to Mr. Munaf's Iraqi counsel, two American military officials appeared during the proceeding, met privately with the judge outside the presence of Mr. Munaf, his co-defendants and their counsel, and demanded Mr. Munaf receive the death penalty. After the ex parte meeting, the judge rendered the verdict and death sentence.

Mr. Munaf has been in American custody for the past 16 months and has been subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment by U.S. and other officials. The U.S. government has maintained that Mr. Munaf cannot invoke the habeas corpus jurisdiction of the federal courts to challenge his prolonged detention by the United States and threatened transfer by the United States to Iraq because the U.S. is operating as part of a multinational force in Iraq. On October 13, 2006, Mr. Munaf's counsel sought emergency relief in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to temporarily enjoin his transfer until the court could properly adjudicate his habeas petition and his claim that his detention and threatened transfer violate the Constitution and laws of the United States.

Mr. Munaf's detention and transfer by the United States for certain death without judicial review and an opportunity by heard would not only deny him fundamental due process but would also jeopardize the fundamental guarantees secured to American citizens by habeas corpus and the Constitution."

Opinions expressed in JURIST Commentary are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JURIST's editors, staff, donors or the University of Pittsburgh.

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