July 6th, 2006

ian

The NatWest Three

Good morning. There are so many fascinating things we could talk about
today, but I thought we might try this one.
Why should the Americans seek to extradite three people who were doing
the work they were paid to do, in Britain, for a British bank? The
British either don't think they did anything wrong or else don't think
the crime worth pursuing.
How do the Americans come to be so arrogant that they have refused to
ratify their side of a treaty because it might mean Americans are
extradited here, but are quite happy about using it to get British
people. In any case, if the treaty was introduced for anti-terrorism
purposes, what's that got to do with the Enron case? There is the
possibility that someone was lying when they said it was to catch
terrorists.
Let's also note that if they are extradited, it's unlikely they'll get
bail, whatever Bliar says, because they'll be seen as as risk of
scarpering. And the principles of double jeopardy (not being tried for
the same crime twice) seem to have disappeared. As The Daily Telegraph
reports: "If they are convicted, the Britons face an even more
extraordinary ordeal. Under American federal law, once a defendant has
been convicted by a jury of, or pleads guilty to, a single criminal
count, he can be convicted for related offences that have not been
proved in court but which, on the balance of probabilities, a judge
decides are likely to have been committed. Any acquittal might not be
the end of the ordeal. If the defendants were acquitted of all seven
counts of wire fraud pending in the indictment, they could face
retrial for bank fraud. If they were acquitted again, they could face
a third trial for money laundering."
Of course, double jeopardy has apparently been abandoned as a
principle in Britain too. Finally, they could be sentenced to up to 35
years in jail - this compares unfavourably with the sentences given to
mass murderers in Britain.
What do we know about the NatWest three? Could it happen to someone we
know or are who has been doing their day-to-day work in good faith? I
think we should be told.
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