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Is Bad U.S. Process Behind Two Recent Int'l Legal Decisions Against the U.S.?

donsutherland1

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In the course of less than a month, two notable international cases have been decided against U.S. interests. In Cyprus, a judge granted bail to a suspected Russian agent who then disappeared. In Switzerland, a court rejected the U.S. request to extradite Roman Polanski and released him. Two tidbits from the news stories concerning those cases suggest that U.S. responsiveness to the courts' requests may have contributed to the outcome.

With respect to "Christopher Metsos," the suspected Russian agent, the Associated Press reported:

American officials had said they were disappointed with his apparent escape. The Greek Cypriot government, in turn, said U.S. officials were slow to provide documents that would have made clear the importance of the suspect in their grasp.

The Interpol warrant, based on information from the United States, did not list espionage in the charges against him.


Key points:
• The U.S. never raised the serious charge of espionage.
• U.S. officials were "slow" in providing necessary legal documents.

Apparently, with the absence of a serious charge and possibly absence of documents at the time the court was reviewing the bail issue, the court in Cyprus may well have concluded that the suspect was not a serious flight risk. After all he was not facing serious charges and other information that might have suggested otherwise may not have been available to the judge at the time he made his ruling.

With regard to the Roman Polanski case, the situation is even worse. In that case, the U.S. refused to provide the Swiss court with requested documentation. An Associated Press story published in The New York Times revealed:

The Swiss government said it sought confidential testimony given on Jan. 26 by Roger Gunson, the Los Angeles prosecutor in charge of the original Polanski case from the 1970s. Washington rejected the request.

Why did the U.S. refuse to provide testimony that was requested by the Swiss Court and that apparently was material to the Swiss court's decision?

The end result under the circumstances was probably predictable. If one is seeking to win a legal case, one needs to present the sufficient and credible evidence toward that end. Withholding material information, failing to provide information on a timely basis, or presenting less serious charges for which a criminal suspect might reasonably be expected to have less incentive to flee is not constructive.
 
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