Former Saddam deputy PM Aziz files habeas petition with US Supreme Court

[JURIST] A lawyer for Tariq Aziz [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], former deputy prime minister and foreign minister for ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, has filed a habeas corpus petition [DOC text] with the US Supreme Court [official website], seeking his release from the custody of coalition forces in Iraq. Aziz lawyer Giovanni Di Stefano [law firm website; Aziz case file] presented two questions to the Court Wednesday: (1) "Is Petitioner's incommunicado detention, whereby he is prohibited access to family or to legal counsel, in accordance with law?" and (2) "Is the turning over of Petitioner Tariq Aziz to an authority that may reasonably be expected to violate his rights to a fair trial, due process of law, and his right to life in accordance with the law?" In the petition, Di Stefano argues that the US has violated the due process rights of Aziz under the Fourth and Fifteenth Amendments, as well as under military and international human rights law, and that attempts to deny Aziz the right to challenge his detention violate both Article 1 of the US Constitution, as well as international law. LectLaw has background on habeas corpus petitions.

Rule 20 Section 1 [text] of the US Supreme Court Rules [text] reminds applicants that

Issuance by the Court of an extraordinary writ authorized by 28 U. S. C. §1651(a) is not a matter of right, but of discretion sparingly exercised. To justify the granting of any such writ, the petition must show that the writ will be in aid of the Court's appellate jurisdiction, that exceptional circumstances warrant the exercise of the Court's discretionary powers, and that adequate relief cannot be obtained in any other form or from any other court.
Section 4 of the same Rule specifies that "To justify the granting of a writ of habeas corpus, the petitioner must show that exceptional circumstances warrant the exercise of the Court's discretionary powers, and that adequate relief cannot be obtained in any other form or from any other court. This writ is rarely granted."

Captured in April 2003 after the US-UK invasion of Iraq, Aziz initiated a hunger strike [JURIST report] earlier this month to protest the refusal of prison authorities to grant him access to his lawyer. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has conditionally agreed [press release] to hear a request [text, DOC] by Aziz claiming that his security could be endangered if US forces turn Aziz over to Iraqi authorities. Di Stefano has called on the American Bar Association and the International Bar Association to support his client's petition, as they did for Guantanamo detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan [JURIST news archive]. Read Di Stefano's full press release.

 

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