Saturday, October 14, 2006

U.S. Citizen Gets Death Penalty In Iraq

The U.S. is so interested in portraying the Iraqi government as autonomous that it is willing to subject a U.S. citizen (albeit one that is alleged to be a collaborator with insurgents) to the death penalty without what has--until now--passed for justice in the Iraqi system.

A U.S. citizen who allegedly orchestrated the kidnapping of three Romanian journalists near Baghdad last year was sentenced to death in an Iraqi court Thursday, prompting his lawyers to ask a federal judge in Washington to block the U.S. military from transferring him to the Iraqi government.

Mohammad Munaf, 53, has been in U.S. custody since May 23, 2005, when he was arrested during a military raid to rescue the Romanian journalists nearly two months after they were snatched. Authorities have alleged that Munaf -- who had ushered the journalists into Iraq and was acting as their guide and translator -- posed as a kidnap victim but was actually involved in a conspiracy for ransom and led them into a trap. ...

Officials said yesterday that they could not recall another U.S. citizen receiving a death sentence from the Central Criminal Court of Iraq. ...

Lawyers representing Munaf in the United States said that his conviction in the Iraqi court is a farce and that he was not allowed to present evidence or witnesses in his defense. In an emergency motion filed yesterday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Munaf's attorneys asked the U.S. government to intervene and argued that Munaf made incriminating statements only after "threats of violence and sexual assault against him and his family." ...

Munaf's Iraqi attorneys reported that the Central Criminal Court judge was prepared to dismiss the charges at a hearing on Thursday but that two American officials -- including an unnamed general -- stepped into the courtroom and requested a private meeting. The judge returned 15 minutes later and sentenced Munaf and four other defendants to death without hearing additional evidence, according to a sworn statement by Sean Riordan, a legal intern at the Brennan Center who spoke with Munaf's attorney in Baghdad.

"In 36 years practicing law in Iraq, [the lawyer] had never before seen or heard of a death sentence being handed down without deliberation or consideration of the merits," Riordan said in the statement filed in Washington yesterday.

Romanian officials had indicated previously that they did not want to push ahead with charges, according to Munaf's attorneys. They said no Romanian representatives were present at Thursday's hearing.


Blogger Meatball One said...

Ouch. That's one painful way to find out you've been used to bolster the myth of Iraqi independence. Lemme guess, is Mohammad Munaf a dark-skinned American?

10/14/2006 6:10 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...


You know, come to think of it, it does sound like an ethnic name of some sort.

10/15/2006 9:10 AM  

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