Sunday, August 17, 2008

Do They Stay or Do They Go?

The Washington Times had a story today on the frustrating case of three Rwandan rebels, held in U.S. custody since 2003 pending trial for the politically-motivated murder of two American tourists in Rwanda, who now can neither be put on trial in the U.S. nor returned to their own country. Here's the story: Suspects in massacre seek U.S. asylum.

Here are the key quotes:

Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff announced the March 2003 arrests with much fanfare: Three Rwandan rebels had confessed to brutally killing two American tourists on a safari vacation in a Ugandan national park four years earlier and would finally be brought to the United States to stand trial in the savage deaths.

Francois Karake, Gregoire Nyaminani and Leonidas Bimenyimana, all members of the Liberation Army of Rwanda, had been indicted a week earlier by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., on charges of murder and conspiracy in the killings of Robert Haubner, 48, and his wife, Susan Miller, 42, in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park on March 1, 1999.

"This indictment should serve as a warning," said Mr. Chertoff, who at the time headed the Justice Department's criminal division. "Those who commit acts of terror against Americans will be hunted, captured and brought to justice."

That ominous warning was never followed up. After a judge ruled the confessions inadmissible in 2006, the case fell apart.

Now, the three Rwandans are seeking political asylum in the United States and, ironically, Mr. Chertoff has moved from Justice to Homeland Security, where as secretary he now oversees the agency that must decide whether to grant those requests.

Since a Federal judge has already ruled that Rwandan authorities interrogated the three killers more coercively than U.S. law allows, it seems all but certain they will be able to demonstrate a reasonable fear of persecution if they are returned to the scene of their crimes.

Can't we just send them to Gitmo?

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