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Labour buries justice

Abdelhaset Al-Megrahi is a millionaire, released under mysterious conditions of mortality, to the lasting shame of the Scottish Parliament. It now appears that he is no longer in hospital, a puzzle given his mortal prognosis. He has now survived longer than the diagnosed two months, imploding the claims of clemency and mercy.

Yet, Gary McKinnon will be deported to the United States despite his mental condition and the prognosis that he is a suicide risk, under a despised extradition treaty.

What justice could my country invoke if Al-Megrahi lived in Libyan luxury and David McKinnon took his own life far away from kith and kin?

23 comments to Labour buries justice

  • Justice left Britain when lawyers became lawmakers. They have no concept of Justice only one of more law.

    The only justice they will undestand is that which lies at the end of a rope on the other side of a revolt. Which is the same as saying they will never see justice in our lifetimes.

  • BASR

    There is the centuries old British Justice once copied throughout the free world!

    Or New Labours damn you Jack we are alright version which amounts to!

    We will do anything in our power to prevent you enjoying Democracy, Freedom. Justice, Law & Order, Soverignty and Security and or any pensions you have worked decades for in your own country!

    Because that is the right thing for us to do!

  • llamas

    So let me see, now –

    You disdain the clemency given to one man, based upon admittedly-dubious and unproven claims about his heath.

    But you demand that clemency be given to another man, based upon dubious and unproven claims about his health.

    Do I have that right?



  • lukas


    so trying McKinnon in England under UK/English law is clemency now?

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Al-Megrahi is diplomacy, McKinnon is law. Neither has anything to do with ‘justice’, which (politically) is a meaningless noise emitted by government when it wants something.

  • llamas

    Lukas wrote:

    ‘so trying McKinnon in England under UK/English law is clemency now?’

    Well, the extradition treaty to which he is subject is also (effectively) UK/English law. HMG agreed to it.

    Does anyone deny that Meghrahi alConsonant has prostate cancer and is going to die very soon? But because he has lived 5 months, instead of 3, David McKinnon should not suffer the consequences of his actions under UK/English law? What’s the connection, here?

    Some disconnect, here. Still trying to see it. The specification of ‘justice’ seems to be awfully – situational.



  • x

    Who is David McKinnon? Do you mean Gary?

  • Paul Marks

    David McKinnon is a man with a mental problem (NOT madness – rather a form of autism), who was looking for stuff about UFO’s

    He is utterly harmless (in some ways a child in a man’s body) – and sending him to prison (let alone an American prison) to await trial is a wicked thing to do.

    As for the treaty itself…….

    Natural justice demands that there be strong evidence that a person is guilty of a crime (a REAL crime – a violation of someone’s body or possessions) and that they will be treated humanely – before anyone is sent somewhere for trial.

    The treaty fails these tests.

    It demands no strong evidence that someone is guilty of crime (nor that it be a real crime – i.e. a crime under Common Law) and it sends people to the United States, whose prisons are not fit for those who may be innocent (or even for those who are guilty).

    Sending someone to nation where (for example) the Common Law principles of fraud no longer limit the state (i.e. where normal business activities can be called “crimes” punishable by fines and imprisonment) and where such things as rape and other abuse are considered “normal” in the prisons (unless you “make a deal” and get sent to “Club Fed” as a reward for informing on other people or whatever) is not acceptable.

    The oldest bank in Switzerland will no longer do any business in the United States or with American citizens based in the United States (see “Farewell to America”) and they are wise to avoid this land of many thousands of laws but, sadly, a collapsing “rule of law”. And Switzerland has a far less wild treaty with the United States than Britain does.

    Of course many of the above features of the United States have also become features of Britain also.

    Indeed even in Switzerland there is now talk of the unlawfulness of “insider trading” (i.e. “acting on a tip of inside information” – which is what every Stock Broker, worth his salt, used to try and do in the City of London) and even the absurd concepts of “anti trust” and “competition policy”.

  • John B

    From rumours I hear, convicting Al-Megrahi was actually to cover up for the real perps who were the Iranians?
    With his appeal coming close he had to be removed rather than have embarrassing stuff come out in court.
    I suppose a heart attack might have been cheaper?
    Politics and justice live in different realities and politics always wins. There is this guy called Jonathan Pollard . . . . . .

  • Verity

    I’m hoping that the Nigerian warrior for allah who tried to explode a bomb in his trousers aboard a Delta flight also blew off some of his other bits. That would be a punishment no Western government would dare to mete out.

    But I think they should consider it. That would discourage many of them more than the threat of a glorious death for their dingbat diety.

  • Philip, the man’s name is Gary McKinnon, not David. Please correct.

  • On the bright side, Philip, at least you brought out the people who care more about their particular hobby-horses than they do about the facts.

  • Kim du Toit

    Oh hell, why not link Gary McKinnon’s extradition to Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment on Robbern Island? Let’s take the “if… then why/why not…” to its fullest and most absurd lengths?

    1. Abdelhaset Al-Megrahi was released because a.) in Britain, “life imprisonment” is no such thing (cf. the murderous Ronnie Biggs), and b.) Gordon Brown was doing whatever politicians normally do when they want favors: perform some token act of clemency in exchange for said favors.

    2. Gary McKinnon broke the law by hacking into the Pentagon’s top-secret computer systems. His mental condition is not relevant here — it certainly did not prevent him from holding down a salaried job, for instance — and most of the anguished sobbing from the bleeding hearts is because McKinnon faces some serious jail time in a country which doesn’t regard prison sentences as a slap on the wrist.

    And at the bottom of all of this is a profound ignorance of how American law works: we punish the deed, not its motivation (although the race-hate laws are starting to undermine this concept). So McKinnon’s motivation for hacking the Pentagon are completely irrelevant — the UFO nonsense is a red herring — and his tearful claims of being a suicide risk are also of the crimson-coloured fish variety.

    Hacking into the Pentagon’s system is regarded either as a hostile military act, or as terrorism. That’s our law, McKinnon broke it, and he has to face the consequences.

    As for letting McKinnon serve his time in a British jail instead of an American one: that’s an extraordinarily naive suggestion, given the case of Abdelhaset Al-Megrahi and his early release on “compassionate” grounds.

    What’s really interesting about all this is that there’s an excellent chance that, given his mental condition, McKinnon might only be sentenced to “time served” and released. Or not. He could also be given fifty years, pour encourage les autres hacqueurs.

    Weep on…

  • lukas

    ‘so trying McKinnon in England under UK/English law is clemency now?’

    Well, the extradition treaty to which he is subject is also (effectively) UK/English law. HMG agreed to it.

    An extradition is not the same thing as a trial, though. He committed a crime in England, why shouldn’t he be tried in England?

    If I steal from a US citizen in England, should I be extradited to the US if a US prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict me?

  • Rich Rostrom

    Lukas: In an age of remote action, the locus of a particular crime may be disputable. Suppose someone hacked into a hospital’s computers, and changed the prescription for a particular patient, so that patient was dosed with something he was lethally allergic to.

    That would be murder – but where should the murderer be tried? In the country where the victim died – but the murderer has never set foot?

    In this case, the suspect is accused of illegally accessing information on a computer in the U.S. The transfer of information from its lawful storage to other storage took place in the U.S. The crime would be the same even if the suspect only moved information from one computer system to another in the U.S. (say if the destination computer was owned by or accessible to persons not authorized to access the data).

    In this case, the crime occurred the moment the information left the secure system for the Internet, and before it left the U.S.

    But this issue existed even before the Internet. If Adam in Albania paid Bob to go to Croatia and kill Carl, where should Adam be tried?

    BTW – push-button formatting works fine under Mac OS X 10.5 using Firefox 3.5.6.

  • Valerie

    Kim Du Toit, hear, hear. Talk about hobby horses.

  • llamas

    Not to nitpick or anything . . .

    Kim du Toit wrote

    “”life imprisonment” is no such thing (cf. the murderous Ronnie Biggs),”

    Well. Ronnie Biggs did not murder anyone, and he was not sentenced to life imprisonment.

    But apart form that . . . .

    Regarding McKinnon – lukas suggests that he should be tried in the UK because he committed (whatever crime he may or may have not committed) in the UK.

    Rich Rostrom responds very well. But I’d like to suggest a thought experiment which was set to me by a lecturer in law at (a pretty good university).

    A man shoots a gun and kills an innocent person. The shooter is standing on the soil of one nation. The victim is standing on the soil of another.

    Where is the crime committed?

    Where should the shooter be prosecuted?

    The question is not where the actor acts, but where the criminal act comes to reality. In the thought experiment, the crime takes place on the soil where the victim falls. In the case of McKinnon, the criminal act took place inside the US. Where he was physically located when he committed it is not the point.



  • Kim du Toit

    “Ronnie Biggs did not murder anyone”

    Llamas, I’m surprised at your nitpick.

    No, but the train operator was murdered during the Great Train Robbery, which Biggs both planned and participated in — so he’s culpable of murder as much as if he himself swung the club which killed the man. That’s the law (or maybe not in Britain, but nothing surprises me about British law anymore).

    But as to the other point, yes: of course the crime took place in the U.S. — McKinnon broke U.S. law by hacking into the Pentagon, so his trial has to take place here. It’s precisely for this reason that extradition treaties are signed in the first place.

  • llamas

    Kim du Toit wrote:

    ‘”Ronnie Biggs did not murder anyone”

    Llamas, I’m surprised at your nitpick.

    No, but the train operator was murdered during the Great Train Robbery, which Biggs both planned and participated in — so he’s culpable of murder as much as if he himself swung the club which killed the man. That’s the law (or maybe not in Britain, but nothing surprises me about British law anymore).”

    If you actually knew anything about the Great Train Robbery, you would know that nobody was murdered during its commission. Driver Mills, who was coshed during the robbery, died in 1970 of leukemia, a condition generally not connected with being knocked on the head 7 years earlier.

    Hence my nitpick. Are you still surprised?



  • Sunfish

    And at the bottom of all of this is a profound ignorance of how American law works: we punish the deed, not its motivation

    Stick to thy knitting. Guilt and innocence generally turn on mental state: did the actor act with specific intent, or was it a willful act, or was the act reckless, or was it merely negligent?

    And sentencing often turns on motive.

    This leaving aside the common law defense of the “doctrine of necessity,” enshrined in my state’s statutes under the term “choice of evils.”[1] I don’t know what yours calls it and frankly I don’t care what they call it or how they do it in Texas.

    As for setting jurisdiction, I had this nice little screed about “where the harm resulted” but llamas had to go and steal my thunder. Again. So I’ll just say “what llamas said” and call it a day.

    [1] The short version is, the accused accepts that his act was a crime, but believed that it was necessary to thwart a greater evil. To use it requires some real evidence, rather than speculation, as to the evil that would have occurred had the defendant not acted.

  • Kim du Toit

    Eeeh mea maxima culpa. Wrong train robbery. My apologies for calling Ronnie Biggs a murderer, when in fact he’s just a common thug.

    All my other points remain unchanged, however.

  • Paul Marks

    “We punish the dead not the intention”.

    Then America is not a Common Law country Kim du Toit – and it is not a Civil (Roman) law country either.

    It would mean that if someone bumped into you by accident and you went in front of a truck and died – the person who bumped into you would be treated the same way as if he planned to murder you.

    “Guilty mind” is still a concept in American law (at least I hope it is – otherwise the United States has collapsed into barbarism).

    Anyway – there is the little matter of American courts and American prisons.

    People who is sure they are going to get justice from an American court is deluded – if anyone doubts this let them ask a “secured” debtor of General Motors.

    For further information see “Farewell to America” published by the oldest bank in Switzerland – they will no longer do business in the United States (due to the modern confusion between having thousands of “laws” and the “rule of law”).

    And if one does not “play ball” with Federal prosecutors all sorts of nasty things can happen (such as being sent to a “tough prison”, rather than “Club Fed” for awhile).

    Remember in the land where someone can be sued for a hot cup of coffee the government may NOT be (successfully) sued for what other inmates do to you in prison. No “duty of care” in this sense.

    There are tens of millions (perhaps hundred of millions) of decent people in the United States – but decent people do not control the Federal criminal justice system.

    “Would you prefer Gitmo and a military court”.


    Gitmo has no cases of prison rape or murder – and an American military court would not be biased against people who have an unemotional way of speaking (which most British people do).

    Do not laugh – British defendents in the United States (if they have a good lawyer) are coached to show emotion (and to speak with higher pitched voices) because this is what American courts expect.

    Of course British courts (and the whole criminal and civil justice system) is going down the same dark road.

    I would not advice anyone to expect justice here either.