Friday, December 02, 2005

Bu$h Torture Case Continues in Canada

Straight.com Vancouver | Straight Talk | Bush case resumes: The criminal case involving U.S. President George W. Bush lives on.

In November 2004, Vancouver-based Lawyers Against the War filed seven Criminal Code charges against Bush for his role in the alleged torture of prisoners by U.S. forces at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility. The case was declared a “nullity” at the provincial-court level, which means that the charges never technically existed in law.

But LAW appealed the findings of Judge William Kitchen, and on November 25 B.C. Supreme Court Justice Deborah Satanove heard the submissions—both from LAW’s Gail Davidson and provincial prosecutor Marie Louise Ahrens. Members of the media were present—including a freelance writer for Al-Jazeera—as Ahrens argued the case has no grounds to continue.

She called LAW’s case “undemocratic, unthinkable, and untenable”. She added that to charge a non-Canadian who sets foot in Canada under international law, approval must come from Canadian Attorney General Irwin Cotler. “The consent of the Attorney General of Canada is requisite and has not been obtained,” Ahrens said.

Davidson, a family lawyer with some criminal experience, sought the assistance of lawyer Howard Rubin in her submissions, at one point even attempting to submit for information gruesome pictures of alleged U.S.–led torture.

“This is not an abuse of process,” Davidson said during her passionate submission. “It is an attempt to use the Criminal Code for a crime of torture for which people are dying. There are thousands of victims of Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo Bay, and other U.S. prisons.”

Justice Satanove reserved her decision. The B.C. Civil Liberties Association intervened earlier this year in overturning a publication ban imposed by Judge Kitchen. The judge ejected a Straight reporter from the courtroom before declaring that the criminal charges against Bush were a nullity.

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