Gary McKinnon update: Banker’s inquest to throw spotlight on contro

From: Andrew Johnson

Date: 2007-05-25 10:59:31…,,2084186,00.html  Banker’s inquest to throw spotlight on controversial US extradition deal· Series of cases highlight imbalance in terms· NatWest Three lawyer says fair trial is impossible Duncan Campbell
Monday May 21, 2007
The Guardian
The inquest this week into the death of a NatWest banker found hanged near his home in Woodford Green, north-east London, is likely to refocus attention on the issue of extradition of British citizens to the United States. The dead man was a colleague of the so-called NatWest Three, who were controversially extradited to the US last year to stand trial on fraud charges. This week’s inquest at Walthamstow coroner’s court could examine whether a note left by Neil Coulbeck refers to an interview he had with the FBI about the case. Mark Spragg, lawyer for David Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew and Giles Darby, who are charged with wire fraud in connection with the collapse of Enron in the US, said that the note could be relevant to his clients’ case. It is up to the coroner and Mr Coulbeck’s family whether the note is read out.  The NatWest Three were extradited last summer but will not stand trial until October. Mr Spragg said that the bankers’ chances of a fair trial had been greatly reduced by the extradition. “Everything that we warned might happen has come true,” he said. “They are not going to get a fair trial and that is the long and short of it.” Mr Spragg said that the men were unable to subpoena witnesses who were resident in Britain and the Texas judge handling their case had declined their requests to order disclosure of what could be vital defence information, something that would have been simple to arrange if the trial had been taking place in the UK. He added that, rather than having a fair trial, they would have to settle for “pot luck”. The high court ruled on Friday that a man wanted for a double murder in Missouri in 1997 could be extradited even although he may never be released from prison. Lawyers for Ralston Wellington argued that, if he was convicted, his lack of eligibility for parole would violate his right under the European convention on human rights not to be subjected to “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. Lord Justice Laws said that he had reached, “without enthusiasm”, the view that a life sentence without eligibility for parole was not a human rights breach. The case is now likely to go the House of Lords. Gary McKinnon, who is accused of hacking into US defence and space web-sites from a house in north London, is continuing his fight against extradition. His lawyers said yesterday that they still did not know if the House of Lords would hear their case. Mr McKinnon has argued that he should face trial in the UK, where the alleged offences were committed. The disparate cases highlight a growing disquiet in legal circles over the operation of the 2003 UK-US extradition treaty, which removed the requirement on the US to provide prima facie evidence when requesting the extradition of people from the UK but maintained a “probable cause” requirement on the UK when seeking to extradite from the US. The civil rights watchdog Statewatch, which has monitored the issue, said that the treaty had removed key protections, as was now becoming clear. “No other EU countries would accept this, either politically or constitutionally,” said Ben Hayes of Statewatch. “Yet the UK government not only acquiesced but did so taking advantage of arcane legislative powers to see the treaty signed and implemented without any parliamentary debate or scrutiny.” The impetus to change the system came in the wake of September 11 with the argument that it was essential that alleged terrorists should be speedily extradited. In fact, of the 60 US extradition requests from 2004 onwards, only five related to terrorism. Forty-six of the 60 requests have so far resulted in “surrenders” to the US. The new system has caused particular concern in the business community, which has led to appeals to the government to re-examine the treaty. “British citizens can be extradited to the US without prima facie evidence of an offence,” Richard Lambert, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, said in January. “The government has not addressed the concerns of business that this is unfair treatment.” Invite your mail contacts to join your friends list with Windows Live Spaces. It’s easy! Try it!– _________________________________Alfred Lambremont Webre, JD, MEdICIS-Institute for Cooperation in Space3339 West 41 AvenueVancouver, B.C. V6N3E5 CANADATEL: 604-733-8134FAX: 604-733-8135Email:…:…:… FREE ZONE: peaceinspace.blogs.c…: STAR DREAMS TO EXOPOLITICS

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