Tag Archives: trial

The International Criminal Court V New Libya

Since his capture six days  ago, nearly every politician of repute, as well as so-called “political experts” on middle east affairs, have waded in with an opinion on where Saif Al Islam Gaddafi should stand trial.

Those calling for Saif to stand trial in the International Criminal Court (ICC), in the Hague, point to the fairness of a ICC trial, the appropriateness of the ICC to hold war crimes trials, the current inadequate court system in Libya and the nonrecognition of the death penalty, as key decision factors.

On the other hand, there are those, including the Libyan authorities, who want Saif to stand trial in Libya, under Libyan law, for his alleged crimes against humanity among others.

Whichever way we choose to look at it, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Libya recognises the death penalty. The ICC doesn’t.

According to the Associated Press, the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who met with Libyan authorities on Tuesday 22 November, “conceded the Libyans have the authority to try him at home but he wants judges from the Netherlands-based court to be involved.”

But then a more cautious Reuters report quotes Mr. Moreno-Ocampo as saying: “The issue of where the trials will be held has to be resolved through consultations with the court. In the end, the ICC judges will decide. There are legal standards which will have to be adhered to.”

So far, an official decision on where to try Saif Gaddafi has not been reached and it’s anyone’s guess  how long the legal wranglings between the ICC and the Libyan authorities will continue for.  What is, however, plausible is that the longer it takes for both sides to agree modalities, the more precarious Saif’s safety in captivity will become.

Strangely enough, I don’t particularly remember there being so much drama over where to try Saddam Hussein following his own capture in 2003, even though  he  was accused of far more heinous crimes against humanity than Saif ever will.  It was almost as if the West clamored for an Iraq-based trial for Saddam to exterminate him once and for all. Where was the ICC then? Taking a power nap….possibly?

Michael Jackson’s Death A Hoax?

Unsurprisingly, a number of conspiracy theories have floated around since Michael Jackson’s sudden death in 2009.  According to some conspiracy theories, the Illuminati is behind Michael’s death. Others hold a more outlandish view that Michael is simply manipulating the media with his disappearance, but he will be returning soon. Make what you will of this, conspiracy theories and hoaxes are as old as the hills and simply part of human nature.

In the aftermath of Michael Jackson’s personal physician, Conrad Murray, being found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, the conspiracy theory mill went into overdrive.  A few days ago, M7HE productions published a short documentary   (posted below) showing six procedural issues with the Dr. Conrad Murray involuntary manslaughter trial, which it feels may suggest a possible death hoax.

For instance, a photograph of Michael taken at the time of autopsy erroneously had a date-stamp of 25 August 2009. The autopsy was actually conducted on 26 June 2009, the day after Michael died.

The documentary also highlighted concern with respect of the jury verdict form showing a wrong incident date of 6 June 2009 – Michael was still alive on this day. Although the form was later corrected by the jury foreman, according to the documentary,  a supplementary form should have been completed explaining the initial error, but this wasn’t done. Apparently, there is precedent for wrongly completed jury verdict forms resulting in tossed verdicts.

Other trial oddities shown in the documentary include the unconventional handcuffing procedures used to restrain Dr. Murray after he was found guilty, and court papers wrongly referring to Michael as “Michael Joseph  Jackson” instead of “Michael Joe Jackson.”

While the case for a Michael Jackson death hoax doesn’t hold weight and the various conspiracy theories are generally unfounded, it is evidently clear that  some aspects of the criminal trial were somewhat unusual.  Not being a lawyer myself, I wonder if the highlighted trial concerns provide sufficient basis for an appeal ? That is a matter for Dr. Murray’s defence team.

Anyway, when it’s all said, done and dusted, the bottom line remains that the evidence against Dr. Murray was overwhelming and by extension, supports a guilty verdict. As for Michael Jackson……. gone too soon.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Please, Let’s Keep It Real

Watching the huge display of celebrations outside the courthouse in Los Angeles, after the announcement of the guilty verdict in the Michael Jackson manslaughter trial, I couldn’t help but wonder why we always have to find someone to blame when things go wrong. It was almost as if the fans outside the courthouse were ready to exert mob justice on Dr. Conrad Murray, who had just been officially held responsible for Michael Jackson’s death.

Arguably,  Michael Jackson was, if not the greatest entertainer ever, then one of the greatest. As a Michael fan myself, I think musically, it doesn’t get  any better than Billie Jean, off the wall, rock with you and human nature. But having said that, I think it takes a certain type of fan to camp outside the Los Angeles courthouse everyday for six weeks, all in the name of justice for Michael. I found it quite bizarre that some fans became quite emotional when the guilty verdict came down and others broke out into a frenzy of  Michael’s trademark moonwalk and electric slide dance routines. To me, these celebrations were a touch over the top considering the fact that most of these fans only knew Michael from afar.

I agree that the Jackson clan, and some of Michael’s fans, may find the verdict  somewhat therapeutic.  Nevertheless, it is important that we all keep things real for a number of reasons.

1) While the guilty verdict may help the Jackson clan and fans deal with their grief, it doesn’t bring Michael back from the dead.

2) Dr. Murray is held responsible for Michael Jackson’s death within the realm of law. Although Dr. Murray was evidently professionally negligent, there was clearly no intention on his part to kill Michael. The manner of Michael’s death, though tragic, was purely accidental.

There are times in life when things happen that we cannot unscramble. When faced with these situations, we should learn from them, accept them as fate and then move on. As I mentioned earlier, this doesn’t reincarnate Michael, but it helps put sad situations like this in perspective.  On a spiritual level, maybe we ought to also accept that no matter how short a life, it is indeed a life spent.

3) Michael Jackson was clearly addicted to controlled drugs and he engaged Dr. Murray to help him obtain them. If it hadn’t been Dr. Murray, it would have been someone else willing to oblige for money. When we view things from this angle, it’s hard not to conclude that Michael Jackson’s tragic death was, maybe, an accident waiting to happen.

Consequently, it is ironic that Dr. Murray’s “once in a lifetime opportunity” turned out to be his nemesis. However, his woe was self-inflicted by greed. Surely he must have known that in using controlled drugs in the way that he did, he was over-skirting the borders of medical ethics.

Dr. Murray deserves to lose his medical license and be held accountable, albeit as a scapegoat, for his greed-fuelled medical negligence. However, finally, I hope that the Jackson clan takes solace from the verdict and then find it in their hearts to withdraw their multiple civil lawsuits against him.  The man is financially ruined and professionally damaged as it is.  Isn’t this enough?

Cashing In On the Conrad Murray Trial

Now that both the defence and prosecution have rested their cases in the Dr. Conrad Murray manslaughter trial, we are thankfully edging closer to the finish line. Closing arguments are expected to begin today, after which the case will be handed over to the jury for deliberation.

I think the court proceedings have been educating and entertaining so far.  And Judge Michael Pastor has done a great job in maintaining a relaxed, and yet, business-like courtroom.

When this trial commenced a few weeks ago, I was hoping for a pretty griping trial, somewhat similar to the 1995, O.J. Simpson criminal trial. I was also looking forwarding to some brilliant courtroom displays, especially from the defence.  But once the prosecution rested its case and it became clear that the defence case lacked substance, my interest in the trial began to wane.

Let’s face it, Dr. Conrad Murray’s defence team isn’t particularly in the same league as the celebrated defence lawyers who successfully represented O.J. Simpson in his criminal trial 16 years ago (collectively called the “dream team”). Each individual member of the “dream team” was an ace lawyer in his own right. The team included the late great Johnnie Cochran; F Lee Bailey; Robert Shapiro and Alan Dershowitz. But given Dr. Conrad Murray’s widely reported financial health, it is doubtful that he would have been able to afford anything near the astronomical $3-$6m price tag O.J. Simpson’s defence is thought to have cost.

But there’s another dimension to my harking back to the O.J. Simpson trial.   Quite a handful of those involved in that trial went on to profit from their involvement in the case. And this includes court staff, witnesses, jurors, as well as defence and prosecuting lawyers.

Unless there is a future judicial ruling prohibiting jurors, witnesses and lawyers from profiting from the Dr.Conrad Murray trial, it is almost impossible not to expect a similar raft of trial-inspired books from key participants at the end of the trial.  Now, I am not contending that it is right or wrong to profit in this way, but if acquitted of the involuntary manslaughter charge, we can certainly expect Dr. Conrad Murray to give his own account of events in a book. But of course, a book deal would be furthest from Dr. Conrad Murray’s mind while his fate hangs in the balance. In the pursuant of justice, one can only hope that the members of the jury focus, initially, on the job at hand and defer drafting their memoirs until after the end of the trial.

For information, the nine books authored or co-authored by key participants in the O.J. Simpson criminal trial are listed below.

  1. Madam Forman: A Rush to Judgement? –  By Cooley, Amanda; Rubin-Jackson, Marsha; Bess, Carrie; Cravin, Willie; Hampton, Tracy; Harris, Jeanette; Kennedy, Tracy; Knox, Michael; Byrnes, Tom; Walker and Mike Walker.                     (Eight former jurors )
  2. Murder in Brentwood – by  Mark Fuhrman       (Prosecution Witness)
  3. The Private Diary of an O.J. Juror: Behind the scenes of the Trial of the  Century – by Michael Knox (Former juror)
  4. Without a Doubt – by Marcia Clark (Lead Prosecutor)
  5. In Contempt – by Christopher Darden (Co-Prosecutor )
  6. Journey to Justice – by Johnnie Cochrane ( Defence Lawyer)
  7. The Search for Justice: A Defence Attorney’s Belief on the O.J. Simpson Case – by Robert Shapiro ( Defence Lawyer)
  8. Reasonable Doubts: The Criminal Justice System and the O.J. Simpson Case by Alan Dershowitz (Defence Lawyer)
  9. Evidence Dismissed –  by Tom Lange (Prosecution Witness)

Every Dog Will Have Its Day In Court

Seemingly, some of us think that wealthy and powerful men are well-cultured and have better moral values than the rest of the male specie. Those who endorse this line of thinking fail to understand that while a wealthy man may not necessarily be a chicken thief, he may not be a saint either.

In the wake of Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s arrest three weeks ago, for allegedly sexually assaulting a maid in a plush New York hotel, there has been mixed reactions from around the globe on what actually happened. While some have slammed Strauss-Kahn and the prevailing climate in France, alongside other countries, which makes it easy for powerful men to get away with sexual crimes, others have opinioned that the maid  simply cooked up the story for her own ulterior motives.

There are also some French pundits who think the incident was orchestrated to politically damage Strauss-Kahn. Worse yet, are those who suggest that it is okay for powerful men to sexually attack women, as long as they are African women. Whichever way you look at it, there is no denying that the Strauss-Kahn sex sensation has resulted in one mammoth free-for-all.

Strangely enough, approximately two weeks after Strauss-Kahn’s arrest, another well-heeled hotel guest, former bank chairman, Mahmoud Abdel Salam Omar, was arrested in New York for sexually assaulting a maid at the Pierre Hotel.

My aim is not to pass judgement on Strauss-Kahn. Hopefully, the jury will do a good job of that when the trial gets underway. I strongly believe in the rule of law. However, it doesn’t help when consummate politicians like the British  Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clark, make inappropriate remarks about how some incidents of rape are more serious than others. You don’t need to have a PhD in Psychology to know that all sexual assaults are indeed serious and traumatising for victims, some of whom never fully recover from their ordeal.

As they say, there are positives to be taken from every bad situation. And as  someone who is au fait with the hotel industry, these recent, high-profile, alleged sex assaults have highlighted the occupational risks to which female hotel employees are constantly exposed. Every time a female hotel employee goes into a male-occupied guest room, to service it, deliver room service or even collect laundry, there is a possibility that something untoward may happen to her. Hopefully, the publicity surrounding the Strauss-Kahn case will prompt hoteliers to review their current arrangements for mitigating the risk of sex attacks on  female employees in the work environment.

I also hope that justice prevails in this case. If Strauss-Kahn is guilty of the charges filed against him, then it is only right that he pays for his crime. On the other hand, if it transpires that the maid made it all up, then she should face the music for wasting US public funds, police time, and ruining the career and reputation of an innocent albeit wealthy and powerful man.

Earlier this week in a New York court, Strauss-Kahn pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted rape. For some weird reason, I feel that this trial may come to resemble the 1995 O. J. Simpson murder trial. Those who recall that trial will remember how the issue of race, as well as the handling of the investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department, had a significant bearing on the outcome of that case.

For now, one thing I can say with definite conviction is that every dog will surely have its day in court.