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'Insufficient evidence' to support Ramadan torture allegations: US Army

[JURIST] A spokesperson for the US Army Criminal Investigation Command [official website] said Wednesday that it had found "insufficient evidence" to support allegations by former Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan [Trial Watch profile; JURIST news archive] that he was tortured by US personnel following his arrest in 2003 after he reportedly refused to reveal certain information. Ramadan is currently facing a death sentence [JURIST report] imposed by the Iraqi High Tribunal (IHT) [official website; HRW backgrounder] trial chamber after its appeal chamber rejected as too light an initial sentence of life imprisonment issued last November when Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death.

On Monday, Ramadan defense lawyer Giovanni di Stefano [firm website] released a sworn statement [JURIST report; statement, DOC] by Ramadan signed March 22, 2006 in which Ramadan alleged he had been subjected to "methods of torture." The Army spokesperson on Wednesday said the investigation into the torture allegations was closed, without specifying a specific end date. In a statement e-mailed to JURIST Thursday, di Stefano responded:

The US military have conceded, quite correctly, that an investigation was held into allegations of torture by Taha Ramadan. The year was 2003 and we have seen already what the US military did to Iraqi prisoners that year.

There was photographic evidence from Abu Gharib Prison. There is, to the best of my knowledge, no such evidence in the case of Taha Ramadan. What is shocking however, is that the US military, again quite properly, can neither confirm 'or deny' the acts of torture complained of by Taha Ramadan.

This is of some serious concern. Not only must Taha Ramadan now face the inevitable act of being murdered by the State of Iraq after having received life imprisonment but the foundation to the trial were potential acts of torture committed by the US military who are unable to deny that such acts were committed. If ever an accused requires (even if guilty) an act of clemency it is Taha Ramadan. I have referred this matter to Louise Arbour, the UN Human Rights Commissioner, but there is little that she can do. The only body that are lawfully able to intervene are the US military with or without political command. No military are compelled to obey orders from political bodies that may constitute crimes. Handing over Taha Ramadan to the Iraqi Government may well be a criminal act since it is common ground he has not received a fair trial. In her amicus brief Louise Arbour states clearly that Taha Ramadan et al has not received a fair trial. It follows thus that any of the US military who do hand him over for the purpose of execution are capable of indictment for conspiracy. I urge the US military commander in Iraq to wilfully refuse any order from political sources failing which he and any who participate may be indicted. For the sake of justice Taha Ramadan should be spared.
Di Stefano has said that he will ask US courts to prevent the US government from handing Ramadan over to Iraqi officials for his execution, relying on the case of suspected Iraqi terrorist Shawqi Omar [JURIST news archive]. The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled [PDF text] earlier this month that Omar may argue his case before a US court [JURIST report]. Omar, a US citizen, is seeking to block the US military from turning him over to Iraqi custody for trial in Iraqi courts. Bloomberg has more.

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