Libyan Bombing Suspect Fails to Upend Charges
MANHATTAN (CN) - A Libyan suspect's rendition to New York, with a weeklong stop for interrogation aboard a U.S. warship, will not stop a trial over his alleged role in the 1998 bombing of two U.S. Embassies in East Africa, a federal judge ruled.
U.S. Army Delta Force operatives snatched Anas al-Libi from his vehicle outside his home in Tripoli, Libya, on Oct. 5, 2013, and brought him aboard the U.S.S. Antonio, a Navy vessel where an interagency team known as the High-Value Interrogation Group badgered him for a week while denying him contact with the outside world.
Sent to the Southern District of New York, al-Libi now face charges that he scouted the targets of U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which al-Qaida destroyed in twin bombings that killed 224 people and injured thousands.
On Oct. 15, Al-Libi told a federal judge that he preferred to be tried under his birth name Nazih Abdul Hamed al Ruqai.
He entered a plea of not guilty, and defense attorney Bernard Kleinman then lobbied to get the charges dismissed on the basis of the "inhumane treatment" his client purportedly suffered aboard the vessel. Agents did not inform al Ruqai of "the right to have counsel," "his rights under the United Nations Charter," or "his rights under the Hague Convention," Kleinman said.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan refused Thursday afternoon to dismiss the indictment.
"The Supreme Court flatly has held that a forcible abduction of a defendant does not strip a court of jurisdiction to try that defendant," the 15-page opinion states.
Kaplan cited the 1886 Supreme Court case Ker v. Illinois, in which a fugitive larcenist was kidnapped in Peru, and the 1952 case Frisbee v. Collins, involving a defendant brought from Michigan to a Chicago court.
International law does not help al Ruqai in U.S. federal court because the treaties his lawyer invoked are not "self-executing," Kaplan added.
"The United Nations Charter has been ratified by the United States, but nothing suggests that it was intended to be enforceable in federal courts," the opinion states.
As for the Hague Convention, Kaplan wrote: "It attempts to impose standards of conduct for belligerent nations, but the Convention itself indicates that it was not intended to create judicially enforceable rights."
Al Ruqai's lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.