US assures fair trial for UK Enron bankers as Senate panel takes up extradition treaty

[JURIST] The top legal advisor to the US Secretary of State assured the UK on Friday that the three British bankers who were extradited to the US in connection with the Enron fraud scandal [JURIST news archive] will receive a fair trial, and that the extradition treaty is fair. In the first official US response to the extradition controversy [JURIST report], Department of State legal advisor John Bellinger [official profile] told the BBC that the three defendants will be treated fairly in the US system, and that "while the procedures are different in different countries, the legal standard of evidence required for extradition is the same." Bellinger noted that the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee [official website] will hold hearings [witness list] on the treaty on Friday, which will eventually require a two-thirds majority of Senate votes to be ratified into law.

The revised UK Extradition Act [text], signed by Blair, incorporates the 2003 US-UK Extradition Treaty [text, PDF; Statewatch backgrounder] into British law, but the US has not yet ratified the instrument. Currently, the US may request that a UK citizen be extradited upon a simple showing of prima facie evidence, but the US will only extradite a US citizen to the UK if the UK shows that probable cause underlies the extradition request.

Giles Darby, David Bermingham and Gary Mulgrew, who were extradited to the US [JURIST report] last week following a three-year court battle, have pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to a total of seven counts of wire fraud [indictment, PDF] for an allegedly fraudulent sale of Enron stock. In February, the UK High Court approved the extradition [JURIST report], holding that extradition would be proper because the charges had a substantial connection to events and people in the US. BBC News has more.

3:41 PM ET - A federal judge on Friday refused to grant a defense request to allow the three bankers to return to the UK while awaiting trial. Noting that there was a flight risk, Magistrate Judge Stephen Smith also said that the three defendants should remain in the Houston area and would not be allowed to reside together to protect against what prosecutors called a "danger of collaboration." The trial is currently scheduled to begin Sept. 11. AFP has more.



 

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