Friday, September 26, 2003

Double jeopardy

US prosecutors plan to dismiss charges against Zacarias Moussaoui (the alleged "20th hijacker"). The BBC says that this is part of a legal ploy to appeal both the dismissal and the judge's ruling that Moussaoui be allowed to call witnesses in his defence (in particular, witnesses the US government has disappeared and is interrogating - like Khalid Shaykh Mohammed). But the real ploy is that if the US court system does its job and stands up for the rights of the defendent, the prosecution will accept the dismissal, and then promptly put Moussaoui before a military tribunal - where they can sentence him to death, without having to worry about those pesky technicalities like standards of evidence or impartial juries.

This is double jeopardy of the worst sort, and a perfect illustration of how far America has sunk since september 11th.