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DOJ argues federal court cannot block transfer of American to Iraqi jurisdiction

[JURIST] Lawyers for the US Department of Justice told a panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] Monday that the court lacked the power to prevent the case of an American held in Iraq from being transferred to the Iraqi courts. The American, Shawqi Omar [JURIST report], has dual US and Jordanian citizenship has been held by the US military in Iraq since US forces detained him for harboring insurgents in 2004. Omar is said to be a relative of late Iraqi al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, killed in June in a US airstrike, and has already been indicted with Zarqawi in Jordan. Omar's family had challenged the US government's attempt to transfer him to Iraqi custody, saying that he will likely be tortured if turned over to the Iraqi courts. US District Judge Ricardo Urbina issued a preliminary injunction [PDF text; opinion, PDF] in February to block Omar's turnover. Government attorneys have also insisted that US courts lack the jurisdiction to rule on Omar's case because Omar is in the custody of the Multi-National Force [official website].

According to US officials, Iraqi courts are considering pressing charges against Omar, which would make him the first US citizen to be tried under the fledgling post-Saddam Iraqi legal system. AP has more.

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