To thine own self be true

International justice

Posted by Polonius on 24 September, 2006

Recently at ScienceBlogs I came across the story of:

“the Tripoli Six, – five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian physician that are on trial accused of deliberately (as agents of Israel and the United States) infecting 400 Libyan children with the HiV virus while working at a Libyan hospital”

The Questionable Authority

On the face of it, the accusation is absurd. I cannot imagine what motive Mossad or the CIA would have to do such a thing. It is hard to see how a fair trial could possibly result in a conviction beyond reasonable doubt, if that standard of proof applies in Libya.

Here in Scotland, I think the court system works reasonably well. Of course it’s not perfect and it can take time, sometimes years, to reach some approximation to justice – years in which a lot of damage can be done. I’m thinking about the infamous Orkneys satanic abuse case. The story had everything needed to set tabloid readers baying for blood; it was even set in an isolated (literally) Scots community, just like The Wicker Man. And like the Tripoli Six, the story was self-evidently absurd.

Just imagine for a moment that you wanted to form a group of people with an illegal common interest; furthermore a common interest that is not only illegal, but morally repugnant to most of society. How would you go about recruiting new members? Advertise in the local paper? On the Internet? As soon as you arranged to meet a new recruit in person, the chances of getting caught would be so high it’s just not worth the risk. The only way to form such a group is by invitation only, and it’s only safe to invite people who have already been convicted of similar offences. The idea that this alleged ring had recruited several members across a local community without once approaching someone who wasn’t interested in joining, and who would obviously raise the alarm, is just ridiculous. But that didn’t stop the witch-hunt.

Another strange story is that of Mohammed Afroz Abdul Razzak. It’s hard to say what’s the strangest aspect of this story. It seems that Afroz and seven accomplices planned to hijack two London to Manchester aircraft on September 11th, 2001 and crash them into the House of Commons and Tower Bridge. The plan got as far as the eight booking their places on the two flights and Afroz, at least, checking into a hotel near Heathrow. This story has been reported on the BBC News Web site, but almost nobody has heard of it. Why hasn’t this been on front pages throughout the world? This offence is alleged to have taken place in England, yet he has been tried and convicted in Mumbai. Was extradition discussed? What has become of his seven co-conspirators? What is going on here?


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