Victim of miscarriage of justice told: Tough shit baby

25/01/2013

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Jill Dando. She was not killed by Barry George, but the courts don’t give a toss

Barry George, the man wrongly convicted for the murder of TV presenter Jill Dando, has been told he isn’t entitled to a penny of compensation even though he served eight years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. George is one of four people whose faulty convictions and subsequent claims for compensation were reviewed by the London high court.

This is because of a Supreme Court ruling in 2011 concerning compensation payments to victims of miscarriage of justice. The Supreme Court ruling states:

“[A miscarriage of justice occurs] when a new or newly discovered fact shows conclusively that the evidence against a defendant has been so undermined that no conviction could possibly be based upon it…

“A claimant for compensation will not need to prove he was innocent of the crime but he will have to show that, on the basis of facts as they are now known, he should not have been convicted or that conviction could not possibly be based on those facts.”

Not all miscarriages of justice, it follows, will lead to compensation. “Procedural deficiencies that led to irregularities in the trial or errors in the investigation of offences will not suffice to establish entitlement to compensation,” the supreme court judges explained.

This means that it makes no difference whether you have committed the crime or not. You’ll get compensation only if compelling new evidence comes to light. A flawed police investigation, or faulty behaviour by court officers at the time of the trial, mean nothing. So Barry George, who wrongly served eight years, gets nothing by way of compensation. Neither will Ismail Ali, who was convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm upon his wife at Luton Crown Court in 2007; Kevin Dennis, whose conviction of the murder of Babatunde Oba was declared unsound and whose retrial was abandoned when the trial judge agreed with submissions there was no case answer and directed the jury to acquit Dennis of murder; and Justin Tunbridge whose convictions for two counts of indecent assault in 1995 were eventually quashed by the Court of Appeal in April 2008. Another eleven miscarriage of justice cases are due to come before the High Court soon, but these rulings make it unlikely that any compensation will be paid to these innocent people.

This is what it boils down to: it doesn’t matter if you actually committed the crimes you were sent to jail for. In Barry George’s case, he served eight years for a crime he did not commit. His wrongful conviction made him a hate figure to the public who loved Jill Dando. And now he’s been denied compensation, which will make people think “there’s no smoke without fire – he must have done it, otherwise he’d have got compensation.” This could happen to any of us. And this is British justice? Gaddafi’s Libya would probably have been fairer.

Make no mistake: George, Ali, Dennis and Tunbridge did not commit the crimes for which they were imprisoned. They’ve had years stolen from their lives, they have been labelled murderers,or sex offenders, labels which tend to stick. And what compensation do they get? None. British justice is a sadistic farce.

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Capital punishment is GOOD!! There have NEVER been miscarriages of justice blah blah bullshit…

15/05/2012

Interesting story in the Guardian today – one which demonstrates how much of a dick is “Justice” Antonin Scalia on the US Supreme Court. A few years back, Scalia said “There has not been a single case – not one – in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit. If such an event had occurred … the innocent’s name would be shouted from the rooftops.” Hope you’re up on the roof right now, Scalia, shouting the name “Carlos DeLuna”.

The Guardian article tells us:

Carlos DeLuna was arrested, aged 20, on 4 February 1983 for the brutal murder of a young woman, Wanda Lopez. She had been stabbed once through the left breast with an 8in lock-blade buck knife which had cut an artery causing her to bleed to death.

From the moment of his arrest until the day of his death by lethal injection six years later, DeLuna consistently protested he was innocent. He went further – he said that though he hadn’t committed the murder, he knew who had. He even named the culprit: a notoriously violent criminal called Carlos Hernandez.

But the police and prosecution made a mockery of that claim: they declared that they’d searched high and low for this “Hernandez” character didn’t exist. And it’s only thanks to the diligence of Professor James Liebman and 12 students (plus the one, repeat one private investigator Liebman hired to find Hernandez, which he did in one day!) that we now know Carlos Hernandez does exist, that he was an alcoholic with a history of violence, who was always in the company of his trusted companion: a lock-blade buck knife. Whereas DeLuna had no history of carrying a weapon.

I’m not going to repeat the entire article here – go read the story in the Guardian (here’s a link for ya) – all I’m trying to do is show that capital punishment is A Bad Thing; people get executed for stuff they didn’t do; and if the truth ever does surface (thanks to folk like Liebman and his colleagues) there ain’t a damn thing you can do to right the wrong. Carlos DeLuna’s dead, and he’s staying dead regardless of what the courts do about Hernandez. Now go see if you can wash that blood offa your hands, “Justice” Scalia and friends.

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How to search the internet 4: Understanding search engine results

12/05/2010

This is the fourth part of my guide on how to search the internet. Part 1 is here, part 2 is here, and part 3 is here. Part 5, about using “advanced operators” is here.

So you’ve used Google or some other web search engine, following the tips I’ve given you in this little series, and you’ve been confronted with “results” that don’t actually seem to be any help whatsoever. And it’s true, often Google comes across as an incomprehensible joke designed to make you feel bad. But don’t fret: Google (and its kind) really don’t want you to run screaming; they want you to use the results to find what it is you’re looking for. Unfortunately, this may involve having to learn a thing or two about how Google works. It may be scary-looking at first glance, but really Google want you to find their results pages easily to comprehend. They want you to return to Google.com every time you want help in finding what you want. It can be a rather intimidating interface the first time you look at a results page: but it is all pretty simple really. You just need to know how to understanding the reams of info Google throws at you. Hopefully, this 4th part of my guide will make it all seem far easier.

First thing first: very often Google will offer you a list of sponsored results that may give you what you’re looking for; but if you click on a sponsored link you will be putting money in Mr Google’s pocket and chances are that link will be useless. Forget the sponsored links: go for the meat and potatoes in the list of real links.

Look at the search results; very often you will find other kinds of info alongside those results. Stuff like:

Suggested spelling corrections: Google may think you typed in your query incorrectly. If you’re no good at spelling, this can be a life-saver. But if you know damn well you typed your query correctly, forget this option;

Dictionary definitions: Are you actually searching for the word/s you mean to search for? Maybe you are, maybe you’re not. Think about it. Spelling can be a right tricky operation;

Cached pages: Google carries a huge number of pages that are not currently up to date. Maybe one of those cached pages may contain the info you need. Worth checking if regular searches are turning up sweet F-all;

Similar pages: Often Google won’t find a page that contains the precise info you want, but it has algorithms to turn up similar results. Have a look at them, you’ve nothing to lose really…;

News headlines: A webpage dealing with your query might be hard to find, but it’s often easier for Google to find news stories on related material. And these news stories may well include links to more relevant info. This can save you a bunch of time searching for that little nugget of info that will give you what you want. Remember: news stories are updated frequently, whereas a static page may never be more relevant. Use those options;

Product search: You want to know something about a particular project name. So search for that project name, add a bit of info on what the product can/is meant to do, and see what turns up. This approach works a lot more than you might think;

Translation: So what you want isn’t available in your mother tongue. But it may well be out there for speakers of other languages. Just think: if you are looking for info on a product released by a Portugese company, what makes you think that info will be in English? Search Portugese sites, using Google’s Translation feature or the other translators offered by search services. These translators are often pretty crap; but at least it’ll give you a good idea of what’s what;

Do book searches: Useful info may not yet be available in articles, but books often contain useful stuff. So it can often be a good idea to do a book search;

Cached pages: When a web page is undergoing a lot of changes, clicking on a Google link to a page might take you to the latest version of that page, which may be missing information that was presented some time before. Sometimes, these changes can happen frequently, so a Google link will not take you to the info that the search results first suggested.

Fortunately, Google will often cache an earlier version of the page. So, let’s say a particular page yesterday contained the info you want; but you go to today’s version of the page no longer holds that info. A problem? Not necessarily. Next to the Google link to the updated page will be a link to a [i]cached[/i] version of the page; basically, a version of the page that Google downloaded and cached before the important info was removed. So you click to navigate to the cached page, and you will find the info as it was before it got removed. Google’s system of caching certain pages helps ensure that the history of the web is respected to a certain extent.

If you want to download a version of a page that existed longer ago (several weeks, or months, maybe even years) you can go to [b]The Wayback Machine[/b] at archive.org. This is a project to archive internet sites the way they were in the past, so the current generation’s “now now now” attitude doesn’t drive the history of internet sites into oblivion. [b]The Wayback Machine[/b] doesn’t promise to archive the internet of the past forever; but it is a very useful project that has a multitude of potential uses. Archive.org, like most such projects, is run by volunteers and is always in need of financial support, as well as more practical support such as providing servers. I’d advise anyone who finds such projects very useful to contribute even just a few dollars.

There’s a lot of info on how to understand Google results, and how to configure the way Google works to it gives you the info you want and hopefully protects your privacy, here: http://www.googleguide.com/category/understanding-results/http://www.googleguide.com/category/understanding-results/. I really advise anyone who’s seriously into using Google as best they can to check out this info. Google really is one of the best resources available online… and it’s free! Let’s make the most of it while we can! Before the goddamn Man tries to take it away from us!

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Photography != Terrorism… no matter *what* they say!!

11/01/2010


I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this before: but I’m a keen amateur photographer. In the olden days, when photographers still used film, I had a succession of Pentax cameras: an ME Super, a Program A, and I still have a SF7. But film is old hat nowadays, we all use digital; and I couldn’t afford a digital SLR, so for now I’m using a Fujifilm S5700 “bridge” camera. Still, it’s okay for my favourite types of photography: landscape, architectural, and its small size maks it grrreat for street photography.

Unfortunately, photography in general and street photography in particular are in real trouble here in the UK. Why? Because the police have got it into their heads that photographers are all potential terrorists!

I’m not sure, but I think this paranoid delusion first took hold when the police found photos of “potential targets” in the belongings of terror suspects. Individual officers were told to keep an eye out for photographers both overt and covert as they might be performing reconnaissance for an attack. This has resulted in street and architectural photographers being harrassed, searched and detained by police and community support officers, chiefly in London but also in other towns and cities.

The UK magazine Amateur Photographer has been running a campaign to defend our rights since 2005, when police persecution of photographers first became apparent. There’s a nice article on the AP website that runs through the campaign, starting with Roy Jhuboo who was stopped and searched by overzealous officers when he was out and about taking photos in Limehouse, East London. The police told Jhuboo that he’d been searched because “he could have been on a reconnaissance mission to launch a ‘rocket’ on nearby Canary Wharf.” Two police vans full of officers were sent to intercept him because he had been seen taking a photo of a house!

Since AP began their campaign in 2005, government figures have sought to reassure us that photographers in general are not being targetted. And both the government and ACPO (the Association of Chief Police Officers) have publicly issued advice saying that photographers should not be bothered unless there are good grounds for suspicion. Yet every week there are more stories in the magazine telling how photographers have been stopped, searched, even arrested by police for no more reason than taking photos in public places. The City of London Police even told AP that anyone taking photos in central London should expect searches and demands for identification, even though this directly goes against the guidance all forces have received from the government and ACPO on this subject.

Opposition to the police stance on photographers is wide-spread and growing. MPs who are also enthusiastic photographers have raised the subject in Parliament. Professional photographers working for the media have got the issue in the news. But the harrassment continues. I would ask all photographers to support Amateur Photographer in its campaign to defend our rights. It is gradually becoming acceptable in the eyes of the police and some members of the public. We need to stop this! We need to reinforce the fact that we have the right to take photos in public places. We must not allow the police and their political masters to create a climate in which innocent photography can be banned.

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Brit hacker McKinnon appeals to Europe against US extradition

25/08/2008

Gary McKinnon, aka “Solo”, is to be extradited to the USA to face charges that he broke into computer systems belonging to the US Department of Defence and NASA.  The US authorities have dubbed him “the world’s most dangerous hacker”, faces up to 70 years in prison and his solicitors say he could even be given “enemy combatant” status, the same as that applied to terrorist suspects held at Guantánamo Bay.

But he still has has a chance to escape extradition – when the House of Lords turned down his appeal they ruled that he could take it to the European Court of Human Rights.  So that’s what he’s doing.  And you can help him!

If you go to this link, you can join in Human Rights Defence’s petition to the European Court that the extradition order be overturned.  It’ll take you a couple of minutes to register your support… and it could make all the difference! The Court takes notice of petitions.  Help make this petition so huge that they can’t help but take notice!

Gary McKinnon needs you! Sign the petition today!

Gary McKinnon needs you! Sign the petition today!

Unfortunately, the House of Lords gave McKinnon only til the 28 August before he is extradited.  So we all need to make our voices heard now!  We can’t let him be dragged off to face whatever justice the USA doles out for “enemy combatants”.  We already know he could get 70 years in prison.  We also know the USA approve “robust interrogation” techniques including waterboarding!  If McKinnon were a US citizen wanted in the UK, no way would the American government extradite him under these circumstances.  So why should they get to torture him?

SIGN THE PETITION!  FREE GARY!


US Federal Judge bans free speech

27/02/2008

According to Wikipedia, Wikileaks is a website which allows whistleblowers to release government and corporate documents, anonymously and without possible retribution. But a US federal district court judge has tried to close it down.

Wikileaks revealed details of criminal activity at the Cayman Island branch of the Julius Baer bank. Officials of the bank went crying to a California district court, and Judge Jeffrey White ordered Dynadot, registrar of the domain name wikileaks.org, to take that site name offline – permanently.

The New York Times says that the judge’s actions are unconstitutional: taking away the domain name “was akin to shutting down a newspaper because of objections to one article. The First Amendment requires the government to act only in the most dire circumstances when it regulates free expression.”

Judge White has acted like he’s an employee of Julius Baer… but what’s really funny is that the tizzy-fit in the US courts has been pretty much a waste of time. So the wikileak.org domain name has gone – but there’s still wikileaks.be, mirrored documents at cryptome.org, and Wikileaks is also available at the IP address http://88.80.13.160. To shut down these access methods, Julius Baer would have to pursue injunctions in all the jurisdictions where they’re registered or where the servers reside – and these are deliberately scattered around to make such action very difficult!

But, even though Julius Baer and their pet judge have been ineffectual, it’s still damn out of order for them to try and silence free speech on the net. Wikileaks serves an important function – its original purpose was, in part, to allow Chinese dissidents to speak out without having to watch their backs – and the American courts have revealed that they don’t give a toss about freedom of expression even though that freedom is meant to be constitutionally enshrined there.

In most countries, laws relating to free speech and a free press still don’t apply online, even though the internet has been in existence for years. So Judge White can try to hide behind the argument that a website is not a newspaper. But we all know that’s a bunch of bullshit. There’s an expression in England: “The law is an ass.” And it applies just as well to the judge.


Bradford 5 win appeal against thought crime conviction

13/02/2008

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from left to right: Awaab Iqbal, Aitzaz Zafar, Usman Malik, Mohammed Irfan Raja and Akbar ButtAt last the UK Appeal Court has ruled against Britain’s inequitable anti-terrorism law. The so-called “Bradford 5” – Awaab Iqbal, Aitzaz Zafar, Usman Malik, Mohammed Irfan Raja and Akbar Butt – were jailed last year for possessing and sharing extremist terror-related material, such as jihadi handbooks and guides to the manufacture of explosives. But 3 appeals court judges, including the Lord Chief Justice, ruled that mere possession of such materials is not illegal and quashed the convictions.

This action has dealt a serious blow to a major aspect of the UK’s anti-terror laws. Under the Terrorism Act (2000), “a person commits an offence if he possesses an article in circumstances which give rise to a reasonable suspicion that his possession is for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism.” Prosecution lawyers have argued that simply obtaining and sharing extremist literature was an offence under the law.

However, Lord Phillips, the Lord Chief Justice, has now ruled against this interpretation and said there must be “a direct connection between the object possessed and the act of terrorism.”

The government are not happy about this – they were very keen on having legislation that banned certain types of literature – and it’s possible the prosecution will appeal against this ruling. But human rights organisations, and freedom-loving people everywhere, are rejoicing. The Terrorism Act’s provisions against the possession of extremist material has been called a “thought crime”.

Imran Khan, solicitor for Mr Zafar, said: “My client is over the moon. He says it is surreal and he cannot see why he has spent the last two years in prison for looking at material which he had no intention of using for terrorism.

“Young people should not be frightened of exploring their world. There will always be people out there with wrong intentions, but we must not criminalise people for simply looking at material, whether it is good or bad.”

The conviction of the five young Muslim men was regarded as a test case, and is now set to lead to prosecutions against others being dropped. These include the conviction of 23-year-old Samina Malik – the so-called “lyrical terrorist”. She was the first woman to be convicted under the Terrorism Act and was given a nine months suspended sentence in December after being found guilty of possessing terrorist manuals.


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