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Jack Straw or General Pinochet
Below is the text of a satire by Alexander Baron in Common Sense issue 27 on the topic of the erosion of civil liberties.
Extradition: Jack Straw or General Pinochet
The old man sat impassionately in the dock, his dull eyes staring into space, his moustache drooping and lifeless. The examining magistrate stared at the papers in front of him and asked stupidly: "What case is this, again?"
A titter went up from the public gallery as supporters and opponents of the old man separated by the police looked for ways to relieve the tension.
The magistrate looked up angrily and frowned; "If there is the slightest disturbance I will order the court cleared," he said.
The clerk rose to his feet. "This is the extradition case, sir. General Pinochet..." The magistrate cut him off: "Yes, yes, I know who General Pino- chet is. Give me a moment, please." From far away the old man heard a voice call "Are you General Augusto Pinochet?" and from further away another voice answered: "I am."
"Take the book in your right hand and read aloud the words on the card."
The old man tried to move but his legs felt as though they were made of lead. Again, from far away he heard the voice of General Augusto Pinochet.
Then he heard another voice, a lawyer's voice; a list of alleged crimes was being read out: suppression of civil liberties, arbitrary confiscation of private property, conspiracy to murder, murder, genocide...
The old man shook his head in disgust as his accuser railed on and on. Could they really be accusing him of all this? After what seemed hours but was in fact only a few minutes, the magistrate turned to the old man and stared at him impassionately: "I believe you would like to read a prepared statement."
The old man appeared confused until his own counsel nudged him and thrust a piece of paper into his hand. He took it and nodded: "Yes, Your Honour." He continued: "With respect to Your Honour and this court, I do not recognise the jurisdiction of this court to try me against these lies. I have been called a dictator; that is not true; my government had a mandate from the people and ruled with equanimity and fairness. I have been accused of suppression of civil liberties; the only civil liberties I suppressed were those of organised criminal gangs and of the riff-raff who prey on society. I have been accused of murder, even of genocide. These are base lies manufactured by foreign governments in order to destabilise our democracy. I served my country well and in the name of democracy. I was only doing my job."
The magistrate blinked as the old man finished then asked in a bored tone, "Is that all?" "Yes, Your Honour," said the old man.
The magistrate consulted with the clerk of the court then announced that he would adjourn to consider his decision. The court was cleared and the old man was wheeled out to the custody suite where he was met by his doctor. Time dragged on and an usher was sent to inform the old man that the magistrate would continue to deliberate over lunch. "He said he won't be resuming before three."
"Three pm?" asked the old man. "Yes," said the usher, "are you going out for lunch?" The old man's bodyguard stepped forward and whispered something in his ear, then he turned and left the custody suite. It was a full five minutes before he returned, and when he did he had with him a senior police office and a tall thin man in a black suit. It was the policeman who spoke, leaning over the old man's wheelchair he muttered in a somewhat embarrassed tone, "Sir, the Police Commissioner has followed these proceedings from the outset and he would be honoured if you would join his party in the staff restaurant."
The old man's eyes narrowed and the policeman hurried on, "as a gesture of respect from one senior law officer to another. The Police Commissioner regrets very much your present position, but like you he is a servant of the people, and must follow his orders, whatever they are."
Suddenly, a tear sprang to the old man's eye; all the hate and vitriol that had been directed towards him by this nation's press, all the slanders and libels, all the hypocrisy, all the pain, all melted away. In the final analysis, the people who really mattered still had respect for the law, and respect for him.
"I would be most honoured," said the old man. "I will tell the Commissioner sir, and we'll get you up there in a few minutes. I must ask you to er, be discreet..." "Of course," the old man interrupted, and, placing his hand on his heart he continued, "I am a great admirer of your Commissioner; he is a good man who has been unfairly vilified by your press."
The party went off for lunch and the old man was treated as an honoured guest. Not only the Police Commissioner but several other senior police officers were present, and several senior military men, including an aged veteran who had participated, albeit in a minor fashion, in the British storming of the Falklands. Security was tight; the press were totally excluded; it was obvious to the old man that the Commissioner had gone to a lot of trouble and that he was taking a grave risk. If word of this got out there would be calls for his resignation; not for the first time the old man was moved to tears at the deference and respect showed to him by the only people who understood, and to him the only people who mattered.
They dined long and late; it was nearly 4pm when the court was reconvened, and when it was the old man was brought back to reality with a bump. The magistrate began his summing up without wasting time:
"This is an extradition case, one which on account of extensive media coverage needs no lengthy introductions here. I am asked to rule if there is a prima facie case on a number of counts, in particular conspiracy to murder, murder, genocide, crimes against humanity, suppression of civil liberties, arbitrary confiscation of private property, and numerous violations of the rule of law.
"I find that there is a case to answer on all counts.
"The Defendant, Jack Straw, was on holiday with his family touring Chile when he was arrested on an extradition warrant issued at the request of the Government of Iraq. The warrant was executed by General Augusto Pinochet II on June 15th, and Mr Straw has been under close arrest ever since, although due to his great age and to his failing health, he has been granted bail on condition only that he resides at the Saddam Hussein Hospital in Valpraiso; he has been under heavy armed guard for his own protection. Since the issue of the first warrant, sixteen former British nationals have applied under the Nuremberg Treaty of 2001 to have Mr Straw extradited to stand trial at the International Court.
"As I said, I find there is a case to answer. The basis of my finding so is as follows: "The Defendant was Home Secretary in the Labour Government of Tony Blair which ruled Britain from May 1997 until it was ousted in a military coup in 2007. Mr Straw served as Home Secretary for nearly ten years, during which time by virtue of this office he was responsible for the administration of justice domestically. He was also, as a member of the Executive, vicariously responsible for crimes committed at the instigation of Tony Blair outside the United Kingdom.
"It has been submitted by the Defence that because the government of Tony Blair was elected in a free and fair election in May 1997, and subsequently re-elected, that it was a democratic government, that it had a mandate from the people, and that therefore Mr Straw should not be indicted for any crimes against British nationals. I cannot accept this submission; the government of Adolf Hitler was also elected democratically, and, I might add, by a far larger majority than the government of Tony Blair. Just because a government is elected by a majority of the people once every five years does not give that government a mandate to destroy the rights of any of it citizens or to murder foreign nationals.
"I also therefore reject the claims by the defence of vicarious non-liability over the matter of Iraq. I will deal with the international aspect first.
"In December 1998 the United States government under the leadership of the admitted adulterer and later impeached perjurer William Jefferson Clinton launched a series of raids against the sovereign nation of Iraq. In this action, codenamed Operation Desert Fox, the Cabinet of Tony Blair, which included the Defendant, collaborated fully and extensively. British servicemen took part in the raids and support operations. At the time of this action many politicians, journalists and ordinary people spoke out against the role of the United Kingdom. The Defendant was not among them, and it can only be concluded that by his failing to speak out and by his continued participation in the government of Tony Blair as Home Secretary that he fully condoned the air raids and the massive loss of civilian life that resulted.
"The Defendant has also acted similarly with regard to the earlier sanctions imposed against Iraq, sanctions which were maintained long after Operation Desert Fox and which led to incalculable loss of life and human misery and suffering.
"The Defendant's admittedly passive participation in Operation Desert Fox and his failing to condone the sanctions against Iraq constitute prima facie evidence of conspiracy to murder, murder, genocide and crimes against humanity. Indeed, it is ironic that Mr Straw could be indicted under his own Suppression Of Terrorism Act, 2000, which provided for this eventuality, and I am quoting here from Paragraph 17) of the bill:
"A person shall be guilty of an offence of supporting terrorism if he belongs to or supports financially, in deed, in action, in writing or in thought, the actions of terrorists in any country, including murder, bombing, suppression of religion, inciting the overthrow of the government whether elected or not, incitement to racial hatred, incitement to religious hatred, or any other act which the Secretary of State for the Home shall at any time deem or consider to be an act of supporting terrorism."
"Turning to United Kingdom domestic matters, Mr Straw is accused of suppression of civil liberties, arbitrary confiscation of private property, numerous violations of the rule of law and again of crimes against humanity.
"Again, on all these counts I find there is a case to answer, and this time I find so on the grounds that Mr Straw was an active agent rather than a passive one, indeed, in many instances he was the prime mover.
"I will deal first with suppression of civil liberties. As Home Secretary, Mr Straw strengthened the law against incitement to racial hatred, in particular he outlawed Holocaust Revisionism under pressure from Zionist lobbying. During his tenure, forty-one Holocaust Revisionists, including six Islamic, two black and two Jewish Revisionists were gaoled for five years or more. Over a hundred people were sentenced to gaol or fined or both for expressing politically incorrect views, including twenty-nine, among them a number of Islamic Fundamentalists, who had expressed views that would be likely to incite hatred against persons by means of their sexual orientation. Fourteen of these people were prosecuted under the Protection Of Homosexuals Act, 2001.
"During his term of office too, several thousands of people were deprived of their civil liberties by being gaoled for using or dealing in drugs, most notably cannabis, heroin and cocaine.
"During Mr Straw's tenure as Home Secretary, many tens of thousands of people were deprived of their lawful property in arbitrary fashion under the Confiscation Of The Proceeds Of Crime Act, 2001. This law has also been deemed by the International Court to violate the rule of law and to constitute a crime against humanity. People who had been accused of dealing in drugs, and of other criminal offences involving possible financial gain, were deprived of their property even if they were not prosecuted, and in many cases after they had been acquitted by the criminal courts.
"Such acquittals of accused persons ceased in 2002 when the right to trial by jury for all offences was abolished along with all legal aid for criminal offences on the grounds of the reduction of costs. Indeed, from June 2002 onwards, only two per cent of persons tried for all criminal offences were ever acquitted by the new professional magistrates' courts, which were masterminded by the Defendant.
"I therefore find there is a prima facie case to answer on all counts.
"I will make one further comment. Mr Straw stated in his address to this court 'I served my country well and in the name of democracy. I was only doing my job.' This has been called the Nuremberg Defence and was specifically outlawed under the Nuremberg Treaty of 2001. At the Nuremberg Trials, the Nazi leaders and many high and low ranking Nazis pleaded that they were only doing their jobs, that they were under orders, or even that they would face serious sanctions themselves if they refused to obey even an illegal order.
"The Nazis were not excused their crimes on this feeble pretext, and many were executed or sentenced to terms of many years of imprisonment. But, ironically, and sadly for mankind, what has become known as the Nuremberg Defence has been tolerated by civilised courts the world over in all other instances of alleged war crimes. Where the alleged perpetrators of crimes have been anyone but Nazis, including soldiers, police officers, state officials and even government ministers, the world has looked the other way.
"That is until the Nuremberg Treaty of 2001, which was passed specifically to prevent alleged war criminals and tyrants from going Scot-free in the event of their ever being apprehended.
"It is the opinion of this court that strong prima facie evidence has been adduced on all counts that Jack Straw is one of the most notorious war criminals and suppressers of civil liberties and of the rights of man, to have been apprehended since the end of the Nazi era, and I would be failing in my duty if I did not order his extradition. I thereby do so order it. The formalities will be carried out in the morning, in the meantime bail is revoked, and the Defendant is remanded in custody."
The old man's face fell and he was obviously in deep shock. A loud cheer went up from the old man's opponents, and the few paid supporters slunk away from the press box to phone, fax and E-mail in their reports to the British state-controlled press.
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