US must not hand over Ramadan for Iraqi execution

Giovanni Di Stefano [defense lawyer for Taha Ramadan; Studio Legale Internazionale, Rome]: "The decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit in the recent case of Shawqi Omar confirms the submissions we made in the cases of Saddam Hussein, Barzan Al Tikriti and Awwad Al Bandar; namely that the US government cannot use the question of jurisdiction to preclude our clients being protected by US law. In Omar the judges rejected the US contention that, although it has custody of Omar, US court jurisdiction is precluded because the forces are part of a multinational effort. This was the argument that the US Government successfully made in the case of Saddam Hussein on 29th December 2006. I was appalled by the conduct of the US, which handed over Saddam Hussein within 40 minutes of the DC Court's decision and allowed the Iraqi Government to execute him BEFORE I had an opportunity to appeal. The Omar case makes evident that had Saddam not been handed over until an appeal was made (as in the case of Omar) that appeal would have succeeded. It follows that the rights of any citizen before a US Court is no less than that of a US citizen. There cannot be a system of a fair trial and fair rights for US citizens, and less for others. Omar was a naturalized US citizen still holding Jordanian citizenship.

In the case of Taha Ramadan, I will now go to [US federal court] to preclude the US Government in handing him over for execution until his civil suit in the US is resolved. In the event the US hands him over prior to such, it may well be the case that those responsible for the decision will answer to the legal consequences in both the civil and criminal courts. It is time that the US ceased playing the part of Pontius Pilate in these matters and exhibited a respect for law and order. I am personally grateful to the US DC Circuit Court for having the intellectual courage to reach the correct decision in Omar. It is too late for Saddam Hussein, Barzan Al Tikriti and Awwad Al Bandar but may not be too late for others."

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