Search

 

Cablegate: Karbala Jam Cases Underscore Judicial Progress

VZCZCXRO5313
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #3405 2991332
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 251332Z OCT 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0081
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
PROG

UNCLAS BAGHDAD 003405

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KJUS PHUM PINR IZ
SUBJECT: KARBALA JAM CASES UNDERSCORE JUDICIAL PROGRESS

REF: BAGHDAD 2861

This is a PRT Karbala Reporting Cable

1. (SBU) Summary: A Karbala court on October 20 convicted
two Jaysh al-Mahdi (JAM) members of possessing improvised
explosive devices (IEDs) and sentenced them to life in
prison. Days earlier, the same court acquitted five JAM
members accused of setting fire to police vehicles during the
violence that marred the Shabaniyah observances in August
2007. The two cases illustrate the provincial judiciary's
growing confidence and ability to adjudicate sensitive cases
in accordance with the facts, auguring well for long-term
stability and a fair and independent judiciary in Karbala
Province. End Summary.

Zero Tolerance for Terror
-------------------------

2. (U) On October 20, Karbala's Major Crimes Court sentenced
two JAM members to life in prison for possessing IEDs.
Evidence showed that the men, ages 24 and 27, possessed 23
IEDs in their residence when they were arrested in April
2008, and were conspiring to commit terrorist acts. In
handing down the life sentences, the judge signaled Karbala
Province's zero-tolerance approach toward terrorism.
Unfortunately, the trial was not reported in the local media,
thus reducing its potential general deterrent effect.

3. (U) The sentences were consistent with the court's
high-profile conviction on August 28, 2008, of Ali Abd
al-Ta'an, aka "Ali Shariah." He and the gang of JAM thugs he
led were found to have committed numerous murders and
assaults culminating in the deadly violence that marred the
Shabaniyah observances here in August, 2007 (reftel). Abd
al-Ta'an was sentenced to death.

JAM Membership Not a Crime
--------------------------

4. (U) Days before the conviction of the two JAM members,
Karbala's Major Crimes Court in mid-October acquitted five
defendants accused of setting fire to police vehicles during
the previous year's Shabaniyah mayhem. The defendants were
arrested in December 2007, and remained in custody until the
trial. The only evidence presented against them was their
confessions, which the men alleged were extracted through
torture (one described being hung upside down by his feet,
another said his toenails had been pulled out).

5. (U) The judge ruled that there was credible evidence that
some of the men had been tortured. In addition to the
court-assigned defense attorneys' passionate pleas for
acquittal, the prosecutor argued that the five should be
freed. In acquitting the defendants, the presiding judge
ruled that neither supporting Muqtada al-Sadr nor JAM
affiliation are illegal. He further noted that the JAM is
not a terrorist organization under Iraqi law. Upon their
acquittal, the jubilant defendants began chanting "tahya
al-adala!" -- long live justice.

Comment
-------

6. (SBU) Karbala's judicial system continues to impress as it
matures. While serving notice that terror and violence will
not be tolerated, the court also has affirmed that cases will
be judged on the basis of the facts, with "evidence" acquired
through coercion deemed to be of little probative value. The
progress made by Karbala's third branch of government augurs
well for public confidence in the rule of law and, as a
result, for long-term stability in the province. Such
positive effects are mutually supportive. In his
conversations with the PRT's Rule of Law Advisor, Karbala
Chief Appellate Judge Abid Nour Farhan al-Fatlawi has
credited the improved security situation here with enabling
the justice system to function independently. End Comment.
CROCKER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

APEC : Leaders Issue Kuala Lumpur Declaration

The leaders of the 21 APEC member economies issued the Kuala Lumpur Declaration following the first-ever virtual 27th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting chaired by Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin. Convening for the first time since the ... More>>

UN: Refugee Resettlement Numbers Fall To Lowest In Two Decades

Refugee resettlement numbers will be at a “record low” this year, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Wednesday, with only 15,425 people resettled in the first nine months of 2020, compared to more than 50,000 in 2019. In 2016, resettlement ... More>>

OHCHR: UN Committee Issues Recommendations To Combat Racial Profiling

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today published its guidance to combat racial profiling, emphasizing, among other issues, the serious risk of algorithmic bias when artificial intelligence (AI) is used in law enforcement. The ... More>>

G20: Global Co-Operation And Strong Policy Action Needed For A Sustainable Recovery

The COVID-19 crisis has exposed major weaknesses in our economies that can only be fixed through greater global co-operation and strong, targeted policy action, according to a new OECD report presented to the Leaders of the G20 countries at their ... More>>