Tuesday, February 24, 2009

French Appeals Court Overturns Convictions Of Former Guantanamo Detainees

The sets a very, very dangerous precedent. 11% of released or rehabilitated terrorists return to a life of murdering innocents.

And I'm sorry to break it to the bleeding-heart human rights activists, but these people do not have any constitutional rights and should be prosecuted to the fullest!

The Associated Press reports:

PARIS (AP) — A Paris appeals court on Tuesday overturned the terrorism convictions of five former detainees at Guantanamo Bay, ruling French police agents were out of line in questioning them at the U.S. prison camp.

France is among the few Western countries to prosecute nationals who have returned home from Guantanamo — and the ruling marks the latest high-profile foreign disavowal of the secretive center that President Barack Obama's administration wants to shutter for good.

The appeals court ruled that agents from the French counterterrorism agency DST who questioned the five inmates at Guantanamo in 2002 and 2004 had overstepped their roles. Overturning a lower court's conviction, the appeals court said DST could not act as both a spy agency and a judicial police service, the body French law says is authorized to interrogate detainees.

State prosecutors said they would appeal to the highest French court, the Court of Cassation.

The men, who were arrested in Afghanistan in 2001, each spent a total of 2-1/2 to 3 years in custody at Guantanamo and in France, to which they were repatriated in 2004 and 2005.

Legal experts said the ruling could send a message to any future U.S. court that prosecutes Guantanamo inmates by showing how a foreign court feels about the admissibility of evidence taken from interrogations there.

"I hope that American courts are brave enough to demand that the government come forward with the records about the torture and coercion that was conducted by our intelligence agencies," said Martha Rayner, a law professor at Fordham University, by telephone from New York. She said her office represents two Guantanamo inmates.

Judith Sunderland, a Human Rights Watch researcher for Europe and central Asia who specializes in counterterrorism, said the ruling could provide lessons about how intelligence information in such cases can be used in court.

"Here we have the court of appeal taking a clear stance against improperly acquired intelligence information being used in court proceedings," she said by phone. "That is clearly a very, very positive step."

All seven French citizens who were at Guantanamo were sent home in 2004 and 2005. One was immediately released; another was acquitted in trial; the other five were convicted for participating in a terrorist group in Afghanistan.

The NY Times is equally ecstatic:

The court ruled that information gathered by French intelligence officials in interrogations at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, violated French rules for permissible evidence, and that there was no other proof of wrongdoing.

No proof of wrongdoing? What a pile of camel dung! They were in a terrorist camp!

Mourad Benchellali, who was at Guantánamo, wrote an Op-Ed article for The New York Times in June 2006 in which he said that in 2001, when he was 19, “I made the mistake of listening to my older brother and going to Afghanistan on what I thought was a dream vacation.” His brother’s friends, he wrote, sent him to a training camp for Al Qaeda. He spent two and a half years in Guantánamo as an “enemy combatant” and said he could not “describe in just a few lines the suffering and the torture.”

Oh boo hoo Mourad! Cry me a river! You thought Afghanistan was a "dream vacation"? Where you going for your honeymoon, Somalia? Besides, uh, what torture? Even Obama's own committee said conditions in Gitmo uphold the Geneva Conventions!

You know what, America? Screw France!

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