Thursday, 21 September 2006

The Mohammed Salah case

After class I turned up to what seemed an interesting talk. Mohammed Salah is being tried in Chicago for racketeering. A member of his defence team, and his wife, came to describe the case. The headline was "Justifying Torture in American Courts" - the reason being that the prime evidence against Mr Salah was obtained by confession in an Israeli prison, after he was allegedly tortured.

I left the talk with no strong belief in Mr Salah's innocence, despite the defence lawyer's impassioned speech. (He was, incidentally, among several defendants found civilly liable for the death of an American citizen killed in Israel by a Hamas attack. The trial took place 2 weeks after 9/11. ) The question is whether the court will allow evidence gathered under duress. More worrying for me is that the judge has heard prosecution evidence in secret without the defence being allowed to challenge it, and that evidence that supports Salah's claim of torture has been ruled inadmissible. Is this how liberal democracies ought to do things?