Hypothetical scenario : Suppose I visited a foreign country and stayed for a week. While I was there, someone I had met was murdered in his apartment. There is no evidence and no witnesses that connect me to the crime. Nevertheless, the cops find a rusty knife in my apartment and claim it was used to killed the victim, who was shot. They claim I engaged in a Satanic ritual to magically turn the knife into a handgun, which also explains my motive for killing the victim. The police present no evidence to support this “ritual” hypothesis, such as books on satan or objects used in the ritual or chalk circles or any shred of evidence at all.
The cops arrest me and rubber hose me, and I say some “inconsistent” things that are not a confession to the crime after some time in custody.
The country’s legal system triple convicts me for the crime in absentia after I leave. All i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed as far as this country’s legal system is concerned.
Would the U.S. government say “yep, you done the crime now go do the crime in that tinpot country”. Or would the lack of evidence make a difference in the extradition proceedings?
(this is basically the Amanda Knox trial in a nutshell)
From some of the commentary, it looks like the international politics will trump any other concerns anyway. The meme going around seems to be along the lines: The United States demands a lot of extraditions from other countries, most notably in recent times the demand for Snowden. So it seems if we don’t hand over the hypothetical person the OP describes (Knox, clearly), then it makes the United States look pathetic when we demand extraditions from other countries.
So, from what I’m reading, people are thinking she’ll get traded away like a sacrificial trading card.
Yes, the evidence matters. The current extradition treaty with Italy (PDF) says that an extradition request should include “a summary of the facts of the case, of the relevant evidence and of the conclusions reached, providing a reasonable basis to believe that the person sought committed the offense for which extradition is requested.”
As I understood it, an extradition requires about the same level of proof as the first court appearance after laying charges (Arraignment? Preliminary hearing?), I.e. is there enough evidence to justify the charges and going on to a trial (not the entire in-depth evidence to secure a conviction).
The extradition hearing is not to determine guilt, but to see if the other country is justified in asking that the person be presented for trial.
Of course, there’s a lot more of an issue when the person has already been tried and convicted in absentia… But in Knox’s case, she had a lawyer present for the appeal IIRC, so it’s not like they can claim she was unable to defend herself during that trial.
Yes : she had been held for a many hours, and spoke Italian poorly. They coerced her to name someone else that might have done it, or at least she was made to believe that she could not leave until she named someone else. In no way does “falsely accused someone else” prove that someone is guilty of murder, or even provide significant evidence to suggest that Amanda was the guilty party.
Not my area, but I know procedure can matter. The extradition of Ira Einhorn was delayed because of France’s concern that he may face the death penalty and because he was tried in absentia (because he jumped bail and absconded).
Countries with extradition agreements can and do take into account whether the person would be a criminal under their own laws, or whether a person would be subject to punishment unacceptable under their own laws(such as countries not wanting to extradite to us if the person faces a death sentence).
There are three reasons not to honor an extradition request from Italy:
No lawyer present during questioning, which resulted in “slander” that she was likely pressured into doing.
Her parents told a British newspaper that she had been slapped & physically abused during interrogation. Which led to them being tried for slander in an Italian court - apparently it’s illegal to accuse the police of misconduct in Italy. Which I’m sure makes for well-behaved police.
Any one of these would be a big problem for any prosecution in the US. Put them all together, and we have a situation where any competant defense attorney could wipe their ass with the prosecution’s case. There’s ample grounds for US courts to refuse extradition.
Really, the fact that Itally is an ally of the US isn’t particularly relevant. Britain is a close ally of the US, but US courts can & do refuse to honor British judgements regarding libel & slander, because Britsh laws on the subject are sometimes incompatible with US standards of justice.
But that’s because extradition treaties specifically spell out that if the act you’re being accused of isn’t a crime in the requested country, the requested country doesn’t have to honor the request at all. Nothing to do with how much evidence led to the prosecution/conviction.
The CIA team that did an extraordinary rendition in Italy was convicted in absentia, but never extradited. In fact, according to the article, one of the bunch (Castelli) was arrested by Panama but then allowed to fly back to the USA instead being extradited to Italy.
Roman Polanski is still traipsing around Europe. At least in the Knox case there’s a matter of principle at stake. you need EVIDENCE to convict someone. And from now on, we need to only sign extradition treaties consistent with our values and renegotiate the ones we have signed. We may not be able to prevent Americans from getting railroaded by foreign courts, but we can at least not assist them in doing it.
Tinpot is what tinpot does. When a prosecutor can get a conviction based on “She’s a bitch and might even practice witchcraft”, then you’re looking at a country that isn’t very good at this fair trial thing yet. Let’s keep in mind that this is a country that just 70 years ago was a dictatorship and couldn’t keep anything approaching a stable government until after the Cold War. Giving people fair trials is not exactly a long, cherished tradition in Italy.
Were I to judge America solely by the antics of it’s capering congressthings, liberal journalists, bewildering justice system, free market loonies, daytime television preferences, urban judges and rural sheriffs, Judge Dredd style policing and concrete malls, tinpot would be a generous assessment.
Fortunately I don’t.