Wednesday, 12 July 2006

Crime and punishment

So now I'm confused. It appears that if I commit a crime in this country I should expect to get my collar felt and carted off to the assizes (but not Bow Street) where I will have my fortune told and, if it's deemed serious enough, I'll be indicted and sent to Crown Court and from there I'll enjoy a stretch at HM's pleasure in one of the increasingly over-crowded facilities run for the sole purpose of keeping miscreants out of circulation. There is a whole separate post about who we do or don't lock up and what we do or don't do with them once there but that's for another day.

As a process this looks okay until I do something to upset Uncle Sam, if I spit on a Ford or use the stars and stripes to light a Marlboro, in which case it seems that I can be extradited (is this in any way link to rendition I wonder?) and held - in a US jail - for up to two years without facing trial. Don't forget that the freedom loving US of A still has a number of people banged up on Cuba some four years after capture and has still to raise charges in a court of law, only this week it was finally agreed that they were subject to the Geneva Convention. So the Natwest Three are believed to have committed financial crimes against their employers (Greenwich Natwest , London) but because a co-defendent is also linked to Enron they are being dragged to Texas tomorrow (Thursday). They are going under the terms of a treaty between the UK and the US which was drawn up to combat terrorism and reduces the burden of proof when asking that a suspect is handed over for trial. The UK has ratified this treaty but our allies across the water, the ones with the rather less than shiny record on human rights of late, haven't.

These three men each made, after tax, 900,000 quid on the strength of the financial transactions and claim that when they heard about the Enron crash they went to the financial authorities and told them about their dealings, perhaps as a smoke-screen or perhaps because they didn't break UK law but whichever it is they are now being taken from the jurisdiction of the country where the alleged offences took place to placate the ongoing Bush/Blair concord. It stinks and I'm not alone in this view - read Iain Dale, Civitas, Liddell in The Sunday Times;
When it came to alleged IRA terrorists, the US judiciary worried that those people we wished to extradite might not receive due process in the British courts, what with us being imperialists and racists. So here's a question: do you think British citizens whom the US believes to be members of Al-Qaeda will get a fair trial in the US? In the state of Texas, which was devastated by the Enron implosion, will there be a fair trial for Messrs Bermingham, Darby and Mulgrew?
As the law stands anyone - "terrorist" or not - can be whisked away to stand trial in the US so be careful who you upset and keep an eye on this and other laws as they get rolled out by Governor Blair.

2 careful considerations:

Ian M. said...

This is exactly what the public don't understand. We now come under 3 sets of laws. UK and Europe we all now about, but with the continued extensions to the Patriot Act it appears that we also come under US law. So don't go upsetting the school yard bully or he will come after you!

Echo Mouse said...

This is disgusting.

The USA is famous for getting countries to sign agreements with them which always favour the USA and hurt the other country. Canada suffers from this on everything from our military to softwood lumber.

I'm sad for these men and even more disappointed and disgusted with Blair. When is he out of office finally? And is there anyone anti-Bush poised to win next to replace Blair?