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Saturday, July 13, 2024 | Back issues
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Dad Must Stand Trial for Holding Daughter in Iran

WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge refused to dismiss criminal charges against a man accused of kidnapping his daughter and taking her to his home country of Iran.

Kevin Homaune, a dual citizen of Iran and Canada, met Jodi Reed over the Internet, and the couple got married after Reed became pregnant.

In February 2003, within three months of the birth of their daughter, Homaune and Reed split. Reed, a U.S. citizen, settled in Virginia with the child, and Homaune visited every few weeks or months while working as a truck driver.

Reed agreed to let Homaune take their daughter to Iran for six weeks in 2009 so that the girl could meet his family.

"But Homaune and M.H. did not return then - or for the next two years," U.S. District Judge James Boasberg wrote. "The parties' explanations for this lapse diverge. According to the government, Homaune planned to keep M.H. and raise her in Iran. According to Homaune, Iranian officials barred him and M.H. from leaving the country. Who is correct will ultimately be determined at trial."

After Reed pressed charges, the U.S. government indicted Homaune under the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act, which prohibits retaining a child abroad with the intent to obstruct a parent's lawful exercise of physical custody rights.

Authorities detained Homaune during a brief visit with Reed in Turkey, and he was later arrested in Germany where he was returned to the United States and arraigned.

Homaune filed two separate motions to dismiss his indictment, asserting that his prosecution suffers from a litany of defects. He claimed that Congress lacked the constitutional power to create the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act, that delays in his prosecution violated his right to a speedy trial, that the law gives no warning that his conduct was illegal and that the indictment violates the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. He also claimed his conduct did not violate the act and that the delay between his arrest and arraignment violates the Speedy Trial Act.

"Although the cornucopia of objections here might suggest a kitchen-sink approach, these objections are in fact uniformly reasonable and weighty," Boasberg wrote. "At the end of the day, however, the government has the better of each argument."

The judge sided with the government against each one of Homaune's arguments, ruling that his alleged conduct does violate a valid federal law.

Though Boasberg noted that Homaune's speedy-trial claim presents a sticky question, he said there is precedent for not holding the U.S. government liable for the actions of foreign authorities.

Homaune says he was held for 43 days between his arrest and indictment, but Boasberg ruled that "both arrests that he claims started the speedy-trial clock were by foreign authorities - first Turkish and then German."

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