Thursday, September 10, 2009
Michael Shields, who was convicted in a Bulgarian court on what, if the British media are in any way to be trusted (?), of beating a Bulgarian waiter, is to receive a pardon.
In July 2005 Michael Shields was convicted in Bulgaria of the attempted murder of a Bulgarian national called Martin Georgiev. Mr Shields and other football supporters had been in the Bulgarian resort of Varna when violence flared in the early hours of 30 May. Mr Shields was sentenced to 15 years, reduced to 10 on appeal. In 2006 he was returned to England to complete his sentence here. He applied for a free pardon under the Royal Prerogative of mercy. However, it had been the long standing practice, on an equally long standing legal interpretation of the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, that the "receiving state" had to respect the decisions of the sentencing state, so the application was not initially entertained.Since another football supporter had confessed & then retracted the confession, I would not be surprised if he were innocent in which case there is a clear injustice, indeed lunacy, in keeping him in jail. On the other hand if countries don't stand by commitments to respect sentences then the system won't work.
New Zealand was pressured into releasing the French Secret Service agents who blew up the Greenpeace boat were "allowed to complete their sentence" in French hands. The french decided their prison sentence should not be served in prison.
We have seen a British girl who was caught smuggling drugs in Malaysia, but escaped their death penalty on a technicality released to serve her life sentence here.
More related to the present case - the Bulgarians accepted 8 Bulgarian nurses arrested in Libya on a clearly false & hysterical charge of deliberately spreading AIDS, having undertaken that they would complete their sentences in Bulgaria (where at least they were less subject to the repeated rapes the Libyans engaged in). Bulgaria released them.
The initial UK government intent with Megrahi was to "allow him to complete his sentence" in Libya. For technical reasons, not least his appeal, that didn't take place but I doubt if anybody thought such imprisonment would be mainly served in prison.
I have to admit that I seem to have mislaid the correct answer to this. Anything that gets innocent people out of prison is not a bad thing but at some stage somebody is not going to be exchanged who should be. Moreover when international agreements are so routinely abused trust in all international promises is diminished & trust in the integrity of government everywhere & even worse judicial systems is, justly, low. Certainly where governments use pressure to get their own licenced to kill agents back they are producing a situation where innocents are sometime going to get caught in the crossfire.
To some extent that has happened here. The reason Jack Straw gave for Michael Shield's free pardon (a historical term which means he was innocent not that he is being "pardoned) is related to the confession by the other guy but Straw pretended that he had only just heard of this though everybody else knew 4 years ago. This suggests that his release was deliberately delayed for years, presumably to make releasing Megrahi into Libyan custody more credible. This is the same Jack Straw who wanted Ronnie Biggs to die in jail up until it became clear the way to release Megrahi was a compassionate release so he wouldn't die in jail. Thus a month after saying Biggs should die in jail Straw released him.
Labels: International politics
Can you please try to write in coherent, comprehensible English , "Professor" Craig?
From the "professor" reference this writer is one of the Beeboid "Branes" & the assertion that it would be easy to refute the arguments without saying how is rather higher than their normal level of discourse.