Cablegate: Update On Mohammed Munaf Case

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/20/2015


Classified By: Classified by Acting Deputy Chief of Mission David C. Litt for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1.(S/NF) On December 9, Florin Razvan Radu, Director for International Law, Judicial Cooperation, and Foreign Legal Affairs at the Romanian Ministry of Justice contacted Pol-MilOff by e-mail to request the video appearance of Iraqi-American national Mohammed Munaf, held by the USG in Iraq as a security internee and wanted on criminal Charges by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI) as a criminal defendant in Romanian court. Mr. Radu also requested the video appearance of six Iraqi nationals not held by the USG.

2.(S/NF) Pol-MilOff explained by telephone that the CCCI had agreed to Mr. Munaf’s video testimony in Romanian court as a witness only (Reftel A), and that Mr. Munaf faced criminal charges in Iraqi court. Mr. Radan expressed surprise on both counts, and stated to Pol-MilOff by e-mail on December 15 that “it is essential…to hear Mr. Munaf and according to the Romanian Criminal Procedure…he cannot be heard by the Romanian Court in this file (where O. Hayssam is a co-defendant) as a witness, but only AS A DEFENDANT.”

————– ACTION REQUEST ————–

3. (SBU) Post requests that the Department and/or Embassy Bucharest re-iterate the following points to the GOR:

- It is the position of the USG that the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI) has priority in the criminal trial of Mr. Munaf, an Iraqi-American accused of committing crimes inside Iraq;

- The CCCI has offered to make Mr. Munaf available as a witness via video-link in Romanian court in exchange for video witness testimony from four Romanian witnesses;

- The CCCI has not given permission for Mr. Munaf’s video trial as a defendant in Romanian court, and may not be willing to do so until or unless Iraqi judicial procedures are complete;

- The GOR does not appear to have engaged the USG or ITG to date on the CCCI’s request for the video testimony of four Romanian witnesses;

The USG does not have the practical or legal ability to compel the testimony of the six Iraqi citizens whose appearance the GOR also seeks, as none are held by MNF-I.

4.(SBU) In the meantime, Post will refer questions from Romanian prosecutors and other GOR officials to the Department and/or to Embassy Bucharest.

———- BACKGROUND ———-

5.(S/NF) In March 2005, Post understands that the GOR informed Embassy Bucharest that Iraqi-American national and former Romanian resident Mohammed Munaf had been kidnapped in Iraq with two Romanian journalists for whom he was working as an interpreter. In May 2005, Munaf and the two journalists were rescued; exit interviews indicated that Mr. Munaf was involved in the kidnapping, and he was detained by MNF-I for imperative reasons of security.

6. (SBU) At the request of the GOR, MNF-I provided Romanian interviewers access to Mr. Munaf at his place of detention in Baghdad in May and September 2005. In July 2005, the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI)
requested Mr. Munaf’s appearance as a witness, and indicated that it wished to try Mr. Munaf himself under Iraqi law for crimes committed inside Iraq.

7.(S/NF) In Reftel B, Post recommended that the USG follow established DoD procedure regarding AmCit detainees held in Iraq – that is, that DoJ be given priority to prosecute and that, if DoJ declined, Iraqi authorities be offered the same opportunity. On September 7, OSD sent a memo to MNF-I concurring with this recommendation and instructing MNF-I to permit Mr. Munaf’s appearance before an Iraqi investigative judge.

8.(S/NF) On September 26, 2005, the GOR issued an arrest warrant against Mr. Munaf and delivered this warrant, with an extradition request, to Embassy Bucharest. (NOTE: Romania has no extradition treaty with Iraq; moreover, from a legal standpoint, it is not clear what authority the USG might rely upon to extradite or transfer to a third country an Iraqi- American held inside Iraq and wanted on criminal charges by Iraqi authorities. END NOTE.)

9.(S/NF) Following a re-affirmation of the USG position, Embassy Bucharest reported in Reftel B that President Traian Basescu informed Embassy Bucharest on November 11 that Romania accepted the U.S. decision to give Iraq legal custody over Munaf. Post then informed the Department in Reftel C that the CCCI was willing to allow Munaf to video witness testimony in Romanian court in exchange for the video testimony of four named Romanian witnesses.

10. (SBU) Mr. Munaf remains in Coalition legal and physical custody pending his initial appearance at the CCCI as a defendant; the CCCI has delayed his initial hearing pending a response from the GOR to the CCCI’s offer to provide Mr. Munaf as a witness by video-link in exchange for the video testimony of key Romanian witnesses. At no point has the CCCI agreed to permit Mr. Munaf to stand trial as a defendant in Romanian court.

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