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Iraq appeals court overturns conviction of US citizen facing death penalty

[JURIST] An Iraqi appeals court on Friday overturned the conviction and death sentence of Mohammad Munaf [JURIST news archive], a US citizen and former translator charged with orchestrating the kidnapping of three Romanian journalists [Guardian report] held for 55 days in Iraq in 2005. Munaf's lawyer said that the charges were dismissed after the court could not determine the role that Munaf and several other defendants played in the kidnappings from the evidence contained within the record. Following his conviction in 2006, Munaf sought to prevent US forces from handing him over to Iraqi custody [JURIST report] and he is now part of an ongoing Supreme Court case [JURIST report] that will decide whether US citizens held by US forces in Iraq can challenge their detention and block their transfer. It was not immediately clear whether the Iraq court's decision would affect the Supreme Court case.

Munaf has argued 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. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in April that it lacked authority to interfere [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] with the Iraqi court case, however, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in the case in December. AP has more.

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