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Tuesday, November 02, 2010


2 war criminals eventually punished

I am split on this
A Muslim woman tried to kill a Labour MP by stabbing him in the stomach 'in revenge' for him voting for the Iraq War, a court heard today.

Roshonara Choudhry, 21, is accused of knifing Stephen Timms twice in a shock attack during a constituency surgery meeting ...

'I wanted to kill him. I was hoping to get revenge for the people in Iraq.'

Mr Timms, 55, suffered potentially life-threatening injuries in the attack days after the general election in May this year.

Prosecutor William Boyce, QC, told the jury: 'Mr Dein has already indicated to you he will not be addressing you on behalf of the defendant and he will not be inviting you to find the defendant not guilty.

'From this perspective it seems from the Crown's point of view, acting conscientiously, you could not come to any verdicts other than guilty on the three counts.'

The court heard that Choudhry from East Ham is not suffering from any mental illness.

At an earlier hearing, her lawyers entered a not guilty plea on her behalf after she refused to accept the authority of the court.

The trial continues
I do not think Mr Timms bears a particularly strong responsibility for the Iraq war & doubt if, in any trial in a court as honest as the Nuremberg one he would face long imprisonment let alone death.

I do not believe that, by any objective standards, the Iraq war can be classed as being anywhere near as clearly illegal as the Kosovo war - Saddam did have a history of attacking other countries & producing nerve gases & there was, however spurious, documentation claiming to prove he still was. Mr Timms therefore could claim to believe the threat report which would make his vote non-criminal (though many Serbs as indirectly associated with unproven atrocities as Mr Timms is with proven ones are serving lengthy terms).

The defendant has refused to "recognise" the court & refused to say why. Well she is in Britain & when in the Course of human events it becomes necessary to refuse to accept political bands a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes.

She has refused to put up a defence or even to allow one to be put up & we are thus under no obligation to think she believes she has one & if she acted in such a belief she is guilty by intent even if a legal defence does exist.

On the other hand

Such a defence does exist. Our government has endorsed various rules about war crimes including that it is the duty of every individual to help bring such people to justice. This is endorsed by Nuremberg & the more recent ICC treaty, to both of which the British state is a party.

Normally that duty is to help arrest people & bring them to trial. Even then we have declared that it is alright to kill people on the grounds that we wished to arrest them - in Bosnia British troops killed an unarmed Bosnian Serb (in a bathing suit) outside his own home & another group killed a teacher, shooting into a moving car which contained schoolchildren where no serious attempt to make an ordinary arrest was made. These & others involved no subsequent prosecution.

By comparison Ms Chaudry's wounding is far less serious. Also more justifiable because there is no current prospect of people against whom there is a prima facie case of war crimes, or indeed worse, being brought to trial.

It is lawful to take reasonable steps to protect yourself against burglars when there is no policeman present to stop criminals, but not to assault them once the police gave put the cuffs on. In the same way, as we have an actual obligation to bring war criminals to justice, we must be entitled to take actions to mete out reasonable punishment ourselves where the forces of "law" refuse to enforce the law.

Where the only punishments practical are no punishment or death the latter must be a reasonable punishment in circumstances where an honest court, if it existed, would normally only choose lengthy imprisonment.

We also have the precedent of a court deciding, after lengthy evidence from, among others, a current Conservative MP, that clear breaches of the law have "lawful excuse" when done in the name of fighting alleged catastrophic global warming, something for which there is no actual evidence.

The evidence of criminality in launching the Iraq war is strong & over the Kosovo war, undeniable. Indeed so undeniable that even the British Parliament that voted for it has acknowledged that it was illegal. That Parliament was informed by the Foreign Secretary that it overwhelmingly or entirely was those we were going to war to support who were engaged in genocide so no MP of the time can claim innocence.

Ms Chaudry's case appears less clear cut than that & I am willing to let a jury decide knowing that the prosecution's claim that the jury "you could not come to any verdicts other than guilty" is wholly contrary to law. A jury always has the right to acquit even in the teeth of the evidence if they think this serves justice.

Over the Kosovo war there is, at least legally, an iron clad defence for any action against the person of anybody who can be proven to have a prima facie case to answer against charges of war crimes, genocide or indeed the subsequent ethnic cleansing, sexual enslavement & dissections of living people.

On a philosophical point the reason crime is punished by society is to discourage it. The best way to make the world a more peaceful place is if people like Blair, Clinton, Saddam, Pol Pot & bin Laden (where they still live) are brought to some form of justice. After a fair trial would be the ideal, though if that cannot be achieved having the murderers sleep less easy is still a worthy goal. Only thus can countries whose leaders have participated in war crimes & crimes against humanity be trusted again. I think world peace is a noble ideal.

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If you have not already read it, you would love "A History of Political Trials: From Charles I to Saddam Hussein"

Casts a great presective on this stuff ~ she could have had some fun had she been smart enough to call awkward witnesses and cross examine them under oath
That is a very good point Stuart. It may be the only way such testimony, under oath, about the opinions of those involved, on the legality of these wars can be obtained.
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