Friday, June 10, 2005

The value of civilian prosecutions

A Kenyan judge has acquitted four men accused of plotting a 2002 suicide attack on a Mombasa hotel, on the grounds that the prosecution had not made even a prima facie case. After detaining the four for two and a half years, the prosecution's "evidence" essentially came down to guilt by association: some of the men had family ties to known Al-Qaeda operatives. This isn't enough to convict someone of jaywalking, let alone terrorism, and so they were rightly allowed to go free.

I think this underscores the value of dealing with suspected terrorists through civilian courts: it protects the innocent. Whereas if these men had been detained by the Americans, they would most likely be rotting in Guantanamo for the rest of their lives, simply on suspicion.