Tuesday, 22 May 2007

The rule of law - or not

In November 2006 the Director of Public Prosecutions for England and Wales and the Deputy Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation signed a Memorandum of Understanding on co-operation between their respective Offices. Article 3 states: “The Participants will co-operate in the sphere of extradition and in other issues of mutual legal assistance.”

This makes a nonsense of a report today that a spokesman for the Kremlin claimed Russia's constitution did not allow its nationals to be extradited.

The reported Kremlin response was to today’s announcement that the Crown Prosecution Service is to seek the early extradition of a suspect from Russia, so that he may be charged with the murder of Alexander Litvinenko and prosecuted in a court in London.

The Director of Public Prosecutions called the murder “this extraordinarily grave crime." Indeed it was: a more premeditated case could not be imagined, and it was also a reckless environmental crime against the people of and beyond London, as it left a trail of potentially lethal radioactive contamination. Such criminality is absolutely intolerable to any civilised people.

I trust that the Russian legal system will deal with this extradition request justly, according to the evidence. If it is prevented, what are we to conclude about the true nature of the present regime in Moscow?

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