Tuesday, October 17th, 2006
Iraqi Judge Sentences U.S. Citizen To Death After U.S. Military “Demanded” the Man Be Executed

An Iraqi-born US citizen is in a battle to save his life as he tries to avoid execution in Baghdad. But he’s not up against insurgents groups – he’s up against the Iraqi and US governments. [includes rush transcript]

The man, Mohammad Munaf, was arrested by US troops last year. He was charged with kidnapping three Romanian journalists and holding them hostage for nearly two months. Last week, Munaf was sentenced to death. He’s being held in a US-run prison at the Baghdad airport.

Munaf maintains his innocence. Just weeks ago, it appeared he would be set free. Munaf’s attorneys say the presiding judge promised to dismiss the charges after he concluded there was no material evidence to support a conviction.

But then came a strange intervention. Two US military officers appeared in court to advocate giving Munaf the death penalty. One of the officers claimed to be acting on behalf of the Romanian embassy and said Romania “demanded” Munaf be put to death. The two officers then held a private meeting with the judge – without the defense in the room. When he returned, the judge ruled Munaf was guilty and ordered his execution.

The Romanian government says it did not authorize any US official to speak on its behalf and that it is not seeking the death penalty. Munaf’s attorneys are asking a federal court to stop the US military from handing him over to the Iraqi government. In an emergency motion filed last week, the attorneys write: “Mr. Munaf was convicted and sentenced to death by an Iraqi court operating under glaring procedural deficiencies and the direct manipulation of US military personnel." Lawyers have also filed a motion arguing the US has no legal right to turn Munaf over to a government where he might face torture.

For more on this case, I’m joined now by one of Mohammad Munaf’s attorneys. Jonathan Hafetz is Associate Counsel for the Liberty & National Security Project at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.
  • Jonathan Hafetz, attorney for Mohammed Munaf and Associate Counsel for the Liberty & National Security Project at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.
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I read this story. Here's what I suspect....... when all Four were kidnapped, this American citizen realized that our own government has hired these Blackwater thugs to cause an ongoing insurgency!! This man knows too much - he must be silenced.

I hope someone in Power can step up to the plate and make sure this situation gets a thorough investigation.