The London based pressure group Reprieve has released a new video for the benefit of British citizens who fall foul of the law abroad. Alas, some are beyond redemption.
This video has now been uploaded to YouTube. It is aimed specifically at foreign nationals - not just Britons - who are facing the death penalty in the United States, but the tenor of its advice will be useful to people travelling abroad anywhere, that's if they haven't read the official advice that is dispensed in the UK by the Foreign Office, and elsewhere by sundry government departments. The reader will see from the previous link that the advice given to British citizens is, if not comprehensive, then certainly detailed.
Here is a list of things the British Government cannot do for any British citizen arrested in the USA:
get a British national out of prison or detention, or get them special treatment because they are British
offer legal advice, start legal proceedings or investigate a crime
pay for any costs incurred as a result of being arrested
forward prisoners parcels sent by family and friends
prevent the local authorities from deporting a British national upon release.
The video begins with an appeal by Bianca Jagger to consular officials to give all assistance to foreign nationals who are facing a possible death sentence. In other words, please do your jobs guys and girls. Like they didn't know that already?
The video includes some comment from an American legal scholar, Professor Sandra Babcock, who explains the relevance of the Vienna Convention.
Another commentator explains how important is consular assistance, especially for those who don't speak the language and who are unfamiliar with the local customs. At this point we are shown a brief filed on behalf of none other than Linda Carty, and Clive Stafford Smith comes in with the claim that consular assistance totally shifts the dynamic of the case. But does it? Not for a woman who has been arrested for murder and indicted on overwhelming evidence.
There is a lot more in this vein, and it is difficult for anyone au fait with Reprieve's campaigning to interpret this entire video as anything but a broadside against both the legal authorities in the State of Texas and the former lawyer of a certain Linda Carty. And sure enough, five minutes into the video, Linda is shown spouting her proven lies about Jerry Guerinot, how useless he was, etc. Next we are told by another of Reprieve's dupes that if Carty had received consular assistance from the off, she would not now be sitting in a toilet sized box waiting for the Governor of Texas to sign her death warrant.
This is complete nonsense of course. In the first place, consular assistance is not a get out of jail free card - see the Foreign Office advice above. In the second place, Carty lied to both her lawyer and the court about her nationality, telling them both she was an American citizen, and as she had been domiciled in the US for the best part of two decades prior to her arrest for the murder of Joana Rodriguez, and had been sentenced to probation in 1992, why should they not have believed her?
Finally, in the video, Clive Stafford Smith mentions the case of Neil Revill who was sentenced to life imprisonment in California last year. It was, he says, the intervention of the British Government that resulted in prosecutors deciding not to seek the death penalty. Whether or not that was indeed the case, remains to be seen. On the Reprieve website is a photograph of Neil Revill together with a tiny bit of blurb about his case.
He looks a friendly sort of guy, doesn't he? His dog seems to think so, although he probably didn't look quite so friendly when he was stabbing a woman to death and hacking her boyfriend's head off.
What is Reprieve's take on this case?
“In October 2001 a small time drug dealer Arthur Davodian and his girlfriend, Kimberley Crayton were stabbed to death. According to the prosecution, Neil Revill was the last person to be seen with the couple and he was therefore charged with the couple's murder.”
Er, there was a bit more to it than that. One of the witnesses against him was a prison snitch; obviously Michael Stone won't think much of that, but unlike the man framed by Kent Police for the Chillenden Murders, there was quite a bit of credible evidence against Revill, including both DNA and blood evidence.
Returning to the video, the bottom line is that it is better not to require consular assistance in the first place; in America, this goal can be best attained by adhering to local custom. In particular, don't deal in drugs, don't hack a man's head off, and don't kidnap a young woman then smother her to death with a plastic bag in the trunk of your car.