This was originally an update to our discussion thread on Julian Assange’s arrest and “trial”, but as that post was two days old many readers seemed to miss the updated information. In light of that, we decided it was better suited to a separate article.
Some are calling it the “trial of the century” but, to this point, it seems more a piece of badly-staged political theatre. Day 3 of Assange’s trial closes, and so far it’s painting a grim picture of the British legal system.
Anybody interested in a detailed run-down of each day of the Julian Assange’strial, Craig Murray has been attending and writing up reports on a day-by-day basis. They make interesting reading.
Day 1 saw something perverse taking place, an acknowledgement that this is a piece of performance art as much as a trial:
James Lewis QC made the opening statement for the prosecution. It consisted of two parts, both equally extraordinary. The first and longest part was truly remarkable for containing no legal argument, and for being addressed not to the magistrate but to the media. It is not just that it was obvious that is where his remarks were aimed, he actually stated on two occasions during his opening statement that he was addressing the media, once repeating a sentence and saying specifically that he was repeating it again because it was important that the media got it.
Along with examples of the mainstream media totally failing in their public duty…again:
There was a separate media entrance and a media room with live transmission from the courtroom, and there were so many scores of media I thought I could relax and not worry as the basic facts would be widely reported. In fact, I could not have been more wrong. I followed the arguments very clearly every minute of the day, and not a single one of the most important facts and arguments today has been reported anywhere in the mainstream media.
Day 2 saw the defence protesting Assange’s treatment in prison,
Day 2 proceedings had started with a statement from Edward Fitzgerald, Assange’s QC, that shook us rudely into life. He stated that yesterday, on the first day of trial, Julian had twice been stripped naked and searched, eleven times been handcuffed, and five times been locked up in different holding cells. On top of this, all of his court documents had been taken from him by the prison authorities, including privileged communications between his lawyers and himself, and he had been left with no ability to prepare to participate in today’s proceedings.
Which lead to a classic example Judicial bias when the defense asked the Magistrate Vanessa Baraitser to intercede with the prison on Assange’s behalf:
Baraitser flat-out denied any knowledge of such a practice, and stated that Fitzgerald should present her with written arguments setting out the case law on jurisdiction over prison conditions. This was too much even for prosecution counsel James Lewis, who stood up to say the prosecution would also want Assange to have a fair hearing, and that he could confirm that what the defence were suggesting was normal practice. Even then, Baraitser still refused to intervene with the prison.
And another addition to the ever-growing pile of evidence that Assange doesn’t stand a chance:
Then, to wrap up proceedings, Baraitser dropped a massive bombshell. She stated that although Article 4.1 of the US/UK Extradition Treaty forbade political extraditions, this was only in the Treaty. That exemption does not appear in the UK Extradition Act. On the face of it therefore political extradition is not illegal in the UK, as the Treaty has no legal force on the Court.
You can’t help but agree when he concludes:
There were moments today when I got drawn into the court process and achieved the suspension of disbelief you might do in theatre, and began thinking “Wow, this case is going well for Assange”. Then an event such as those recounted above kicks in, a coldness grips your heart, and you recall there is no jury here to be convinced. I simply do not believe that anything said or proved in the courtroom can have an impact on the final verdict of this court.
You can read Craig’s full, detailed reports on his blog. He has requested they be shared as widely as possible.