Reprieve: Judge decides rendered couple deserve day in court, UK/US relations irrelevant

    Reprieve +44 (0) 207 553 8166  For immediate release: Thu Oct 30, 2014

Libyan rendition victims’ case must be heard, Court of Appeal rules

Britain’s Court of Appeal has today ruled that a husband and wife who were rendered to Gaddafi’s prisons, in a long-secret part of Tony Blair’s 2004 ‘deal in the desert,’ are to be allowed their day in court.

The case, Abdul-Hakim Belhaj and anor v Jack Straw and ors, was first brought by former Gaddafi opponent Abdul-Hakim Belhaj and his wife Fatima Boudchar in late 2011. Documents unearthed that September from the Libyan spy chief’s abandoned Tripoli office showed that UK officials conspired with CIA and Libyan intelligence agents to kidnap the couple from exile in Southeast Asia and ‘render’ them back to Gaddafi.  At the time of the rendition, Mrs Boudchar was several months pregnant. Mr Belhaj spent years in Libyan prison and was repeatedly tortured.

The UK government had argued that the case should never to go trial because it would damage UK-US relations.  In December 2013 the High Court dismissed the case on this basis. Today’s Court of Appeal judgment clears the way for the couple to take their case to trial, more than two years after they first launched legal proceedings against the UK government. [emphasis added]

The Court of Appeal said that, while the trial of the couple’s rendition was likely to require a British Court to assess the wrongfulness of acts by the CIA and Libyan agents, this was no reason to bar the claim. It gave weight to the allegations in the case of “particularly grave violations of human rights,” (para. 116), and stressed that “the stark reality is that unless the English courts are able to exercise jurisdiction in this case, these very grave allegations against the executive will never be subjected to judicial investigation” (para. 119).

During his time in Gaddafi’s torture chambers, Mr Belhaj was visited on more than one occasion by British intelligence agents. In the documents found in Moussa Koussa’s office in Sept 2011, MI6’s Sir Mark Allen stressed his personal role in the operation, saying that while “I know I did not pay for the air cargo,”—ie, that the United States actually flew the couple to Libya—”the intelligence on [Mr Belhadj] was British.”

Mr Belhaj and Ms Boudchar previously offered to settle the case for £3, an admission of liability, and an apology.  A Metropolitan Police investigation into the British role in the kidnap continues.

Cori Crider, a Director at Reprieve and the family’s US lawyer, said: “The government so fears this case going to trial that they have stalled for years by throwing up a parade of scarecrows – claiming, for example, that the United States would be angered if Mr and Mrs Belhaj had their day in Court in Britain. The Court was right: embarrassment is no reason to throw torture victims out of court. The government’s dubious and wasteful delay tactics in this case need to end. Enough is enough.”

Abdul-Hakim Belhaj said: “My wife and I are gratified by the judges’ decision to give us our day in court. Our part of the ‘deal in the desert’ – the kidnap, the secret CIA jail, the torture chamber in Tripoli – is as fresh and as painful for us as if it happened yesterday.  We never dreamed Britain would have conspired in such a thing until we saw the proof with our own eyes, right there in Moussa Koussa’s dusty binders. There is only one way put our story to rest: justice.  We look forward to a full public trial and pray the truth will finally come out.”

Sapna Malik from law firm Leigh Day, who represented Mr Belhaj and Ms Boudchar in the Court of Appeal, said: “The Court of Appeal has rightly recognised that the gravity of the allegations raised by our clients makes it all the more compelling for the English courts to get on and deal with their case and to reject outright the attempts by Jack Straw, Mark Allen and the government defendants to shield their conduct from judicial scrutiny. Our clients are now a significant step closer to seeing justice done in their case.”

ENDS

1. For further information, contact Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8166

2. The judgment is available on request

3. Further information on the cases of the Belhadj and al Saadi families can be found on Reprieve’s website at http://www.reprieve.org.uk/cases/abdelhakimbelhadj/ andhttp://www.reprieve.org.uk/cases/samialsaadi/

 

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Reprieve: former FL cop says Kris Maharaj was framed

    Reprieve +44 (0) 207 553 8160
For immediate release: Thu Oct 30, 2014

“I know Brit was framed” says new witness, 28 years after Miami jailing

An elderly Briton was framed for a murder for which he has spent 28 years in a Miami prison, according to new evidence detailed last night in an investigative BBC report.

Krishna ‘Kris’ Maharaj, now 75 years old, was handed a death sentence in 1987 in Miami after a seriously flawed trial for the murders of Derrick and Duane Moo Young. Since then, evidence collected by Mr Maharaj’s lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith of the international human rights organisation Reprieve, has shown that Mr Maharaj was far from the crime scene, and that the Moo Youngs were killed by members of Pablo Escobar’s drug cartel. Mr Maharaj could finally be proven innocent after a full ‘evidentiary hearing’ takes place at the Miami District court on November 10th.

In a report broadcast last night, the BBC’s Newsnight detailed how an ex-Miami police officer, now in prison on unrelated charges, has come forward to say he “knows” that Mr Maharaj was framed. A former convict who knew the police officer told the BBC: “He told me ‘I know that guy, I was there that day… that guy’s innocent [and] I know it because I heard police officers saying they were going to frame him.’”

In an affidavit recently submitted in the case, the ex-policeman says: “I visited the scene of the crime when it happened. I know that Mr Maharaj was framed because one of the officers in charge of investigating the double murder told me flat out that they were going to do this.” He adds that he feels a “moral duty” to help exonerate Mr Maharaj, and will testify at the hearing.

A government informant also interviewed in last night’s report detailed how a man known as Pablo Escobar’s “most professional” hitman – Manuel Guillermo Zuluaga Salazar, or The Blade – had become “famous” in part for killing the Moo Youngs on Escobar’s behalf.

The November hearing will examine evidence suggesting the murders were a Colombian cartel hit, witness perjury, and a police cover-up in relation to the 1986 murders. Speaking to the BBC, Mr Maharaj said his 28 years in prison “feels like 280 years to me”, and talked of his hope that “the truth will be revealed at last.” He urged everyone involved to “do the honourable thing, and administer justice.”

Clive Stafford Smith, Mr Maharaj’s lawyer and Reprieve director, said: “How many cartel members must testify that they did the crime before the US authorities finally accept that this 75 year old man is innocent? So long as they keep Kris Maharaj in prison, the authorities are really just defending Pablo Escobar for one of his many murders. Kris’s innocence is obvious from the evidence detailed by Newsnight. The US legal system has simply got the wrong man – justice must be done, and Kris must be released.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Reprieve’s press office:alice.gillham@reprieve.org.uk / +44 (0) 207 553 8160

2. The full Newsnight report on the case can be viewed in the UK here (segment on Mr Maharaj begins at 21 minutes).

3. The evidentiary hearing in Mr Maharaj’s case will take place on November 10th at the 11th District Court in Miami.

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A letter to Nebraska Watchdog in response to your story on Amanda McGill

Originally posted on Feeling Blue in a Red State:

UPDATE NUMBER 2: After a few days of waiting, I finally got a detailed breakdown of travel expenses paid for by the State of Nebraska for the last 8 years. You will not f**king believe what I found.

1.) Only once in 8 years was Amanda in the top 5 in travel spending.

2.) In the last 8 years, one person overwhelmingly dominated travel expenditures: Deb Fischer. Before becoming a US Senator, Fischer racked up (you will not believe this) $27,772 just from 2006-2011. In 2007-2008, Fischer spent $9638.

3.) The top 3 total spenders in the last 8 years: Fischer ($27,772), Vickie McDonald ($19,638), and Bill Avery ($18,917). During that same span, Amanda spent $12,865. In 8 years, Amanda spent less THAN HALF of what Fischer spent in 5.

4.) Let’s give the other side their due: In 2012-2013, Amanda was the top spender…by $11. For context, she spent…

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.@FLGovScott counts on Christie for win, via media subterfuge

Christie urges Brevard voters to give Crist title of Loser

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was characteristically blunt in firing up a crowd of about 200 supporters of fellow Republican Rick Scott, the Florida governor in a tight race for re-election.

via Christie urges Brevard voters to give Crist title of Loser.

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Most of the online buzz about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is still focused on his recent statement:

I’ve gotta tell you the truth: I’m tired of hearing about the minimum wage. I really am.

This doesn’t mean that Christie is so tired of Americans being overworked and underpaid that he wants the minimum wage raised without any further discussion.

The opposite is true.

Christie voted against raising New Jersey’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 an hour, despite the good people of New Jersey paying him $175,000 a year, plus benefits.

It stands to reason that any candidate accepting Christie’s support is also “tired of hearing about the minimum wage” … tired in a way that will keep constituents overworked and underpaid.

Since the day he took office, Governor Scott had a lot of governmental business to address in Brevard County … Gannett’s Florida Today turf. Brevard, to the best of my knowledge, still has the most unresolved conviction corruption of any county in Florida.

It’s no wonder that Florida Today is becoming more shameless in stringing together quotes in support of a governor that doesn’t believe in justice.

They need Scott to serve a second term to help them keep it under wraps just how many corrupt government personnel they’ve helped put (and keep) on the public payroll, some of whom they assisted, after their retirement, with articles that whitewashed over historic corruption, so that former the “public servants” could happily into new careers … often at the local college.

Conversely, couldn’t-care-less-about-constituents Rick Scott needs Gannett’s newspapers and news stations.

So does Chris Christie, obviously.

Who else is going to describe Christie as “blunt” when he’s instead just clueless and crude.

 

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Florida Awards $1.2 Billion Contract To Deadly Prison Healthcare Provider

Susan Chandler:

” … it appears the [Florida] DOC never asked the companies bidding on its contracts to disclose their litigation histories, which is standard procedure in contract bidding. Had they done so, they would have discovered that Corizon has been sued 660 times for malpractice in the last five years alone.”

Originally posted on Dispatches from the Underclass:

Under the leadership of Republican Governor Rick Scott and a GOP-controlled legislature, Florida has embarked on a massive push for the privatization of prison healthcare services.

Most recently, the Florida Department of Corrections awarded a $1.2 billion, five-year contract to Corizon, a Tennessee-based prison healthcare provider that began serving 41 correctional facilities in August. This comes on top of a $240 million, five-year contract awarded to Pittsburgh-based Wexford Health Sources late last year to provide medical services to state inmates at nine South Florida facilities.

But it appears the DOC never asked the companies bidding on its contracts to disclose their litigation histories, which is standard procedure in contract bidding.

Had they done so, they would have discovered that Corizon has been sued 660 times for malpractice in the last five years alone. A Miami Herald investigation found that, “Nearly half of those cases remain open. Of those that are closed…

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VIDEO: Extended Interview with Mumia Abu-Jamal on New Pennsylvania Law Restricting Prisonerz’ Speech

Originally posted on Moorbey'z Blog:

VIDEO: Extended Interview with Mumia Abu-Jamal on New Pennsylvania Law Restricting Prisoners’ Speech
In Pennsylvania, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett has signed into law a bill critics say will trample the free speech rights of prisoners. Dubbed the “Mumia bill,” the measure was introduced after imprisoned journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal gave a pretaped commencement address at Vermont’s Goddard College. His speech was opposed by Pennsylvania officials and the widow of Daniel Faulkner, the police officer whom Abu-Jamal was convicted of killing. The law authorizes the censoring of public addresses of prisoners or former offenders if judges agree that allowing them to speak would cause “mental anguish” to the victim. Speaking to Democracy Now! from prison this week, Mumia Abu Jamal said that by signing the law, Governor Corbett had violated the Constitution.
Mumia Abu-Jamal: “As a governor and as an attorney and a member of the…

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Likely on @FLGovScott’s behalf, Gannett’s WTSP spins protest re #DeadInmates

Getting Away With Murder - Final

Families of abused inmates protest at the Capitol

These family members say they want answers and they might have gotten them.

Secretary Mike Crews met with them after they went to the governors office. Crews said he thanked them for talking to him about their concerns and assured them that they will take the allegations with the department seriously.As for Campos, the two people accused of killing her son have been indicted for his murder.

via Families of abused inmates protest at the Capitol.

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The way the above Gannett copy reads, it would seem that protesters were able to successfully meet with Florida Governor Rick Scott.

Hardly.

Rick Scott serves only Rick Scott: Floridians with legitimate grievances are of no interest to him, even while he’s running for a second term.

According to sources speaking to George Mallinckrodt, author of Getting Away With Murderneither Governor Rick Scott or Attorney General Lopez-Canter would speak to the still-grieving or still-worried family and friends of dead or endangered inmates. George wrote:

The PROTESTERS attempted to meet with Gov. Rick Scott. Even though his calendar was empty, the Governor would not meet with them. Neither would Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

Any answers the protester “might have gotten” from Department of Correction’s Secretary Michael Crews must be viewed in this ice cold light: the DoC is being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), whose history of being unable to sort fact from fiction has been ruining and ending lives for all of this century, the result of practice-making-perfect behaviors in the previous century.

There’s an unmistakable tip-off on the FDLE’s ongoing illegitimacy:

Gretl Plessinger, former spokesperson for the FL DoC when many deaths, beatings and other inmate abuses occurred, is now the spokesperson for the FDLE … in other words, someone that obviously must be investigated is in charge of saying who’s being investigated, and how.

The “might have gotten” answers that protests didn’t actually get is standard fare. Hardly anything is the way the mainstream media portrays it, aside from who’s behind the “news” you’re watching … Gannett owns CBS, NBC and ABC stations.

Despite retention or sale of “brands,” media moguls have a shared goal – they’re prioritized their greed ahead of human need. They’re succeeding in many “markets” in having the majority of citizens vote against their own best interests.

Again: Rick Scott serves only Rick Scott; Floridians with legitimate grievances are of no interest to him, not even when he’s running for a second term.

He’s very confident that Gannett, CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, etc., will keep you suffiently stupid enough to vote for him again.

Surprise him. And them. Vote against Rick Scott.

 

 

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