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Supreme Court refuses to halt transfer of US citizen facing Iraqi death penalty

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] Monday denied [order, PDF] an application [text, PDF] by US citizen Mohammad Munaf [JURIST news archive] for a temporary injunction postponing his transfer [JURIST report] to Iraqi custody where he faces the death penalty for his involvement in a 2005 kidnapping in Iraq. Munaf, who was convicted and sentenced to death by an Iraqi judge in early October, has argued [JURIST report] that the Iraqi trial violated his due process protections as a US citizen because he was not confronted with the evidence brought against him, and he was prevented from presenting his own exculpatory evidence.

Monday's high court ruling, however, does not mean that Munaf faces an immediate handover; on Friday, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals extended [order, PDF] its own initial injunction [JURIST report] against his transfer pending a decision on whether to reconsider the case en banc. Eric Freedman, counsel for Munaf, told JURIST late Monday that the Supreme Court action could have been based on the theory that the application had become moot. Munaf was initially arrested in Romania on charges [JURIST report] of allegedly kidnapping and detaining three Romanian journalists for 55 days in Iraq. Munaf has been in the custody of the Multi-National Force - Iraq [official website] since last year. In October the US District Court for the District of Columbia denied [JURIST report] an emergency motion [text, PDF; declaration, PDF] to prevent the US military from surrendering Munaf to Iraqi officials to face the death penalty, saying the court lacked jurisdiction to hear Munaf's appeal because he is "in the custody of a multinational entity and not the United States." AP has more.

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