04 November 2009

Italian Justice

Wonders never cease: an Italian Court has convicted 23 Americans, 22 of them CIA agents, and 2 Italians for the 2003 kidnap of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, a Muslim cleric.

It turns out that kidnapping someone in broad daylight in a foreign jurisdiction without authority and then flying him illegally to Egypt where he is tortured and imprisoned for years without charge is a crime. The White house was 'disappointed' by the verdict, presumably because the United States does not believe any other nations exist, or at least that does not believe that these other nations are sovereign states with their own laws.

The Americans have refused extradition, of course. But the judgment will be enforceable in many countries, and as Roman Polanski will tell you the memory of the law is as long as its arm.

Let this be an example for all nations that respect the rule of law: torture is a crime of universal jurisdiction, and we can all try persons for this crime if their home country refuses to do so. The US may still claim that the ends justify the means... but they will have to do so from US soil unless they intend to do it from inside a jail. That is a small, but significant, victory.



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November 20, 2009  

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