ADC Action Alert: Call for a Fair Trial in Chicago
Washington, DC | April 11, 2006 | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is deeply disappointed with the course of legal proceedings against Mr. Muhammad Salah. ADC makes no assertions either way on the merits of this case, but is seriously concerned by the US District Court’s decision to partially bar the public and media from the hearing of Salah. Specifically, ADC feels this decision will violate Salah’s due process and equal protection rights. In February, ADC, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and other organizations filed a motion asking that the proceedings be open the public and the media. The Chicago Tribune also filed a separate motion requesting the same.
The use of closed or secret evidence is a breach of Salah’s rights and the American tradition of a free, open, and independent judicial system. While it is true that secret or classified evidence and closed hearings have been used in the past, such practices only serve to alienate communities and damage trust between people and government.
BACKGROUND ON MUHAMMAD SALAH’S CASE
Muhmmad Salah is a resident of Bridgeview, Illinois. Salah is a US citizen of Palestinian descent. He traveled from Bridgeview to Israel in 1993 and at the Gaza-border crossing; over 20 Israeli soldiers arrested him and detained him. He was allegedly tortured by Israeli security services over the course of 80 days and was then forced to sign a confession in Hebrew, a language he does not understand. The Israeli military court sentenced him to five years in prison, which he served. He then returned to his family in the US in 1997.
Upon returning to the US, an investigation into his background and activities was conducted by US authorities. Then in 2004, Salah was charged, in the US, based on the 1993 Hebrew confession. The portion of the hearings in which the Israeli security forces were questioned was closed to the public.
· Contact the Prosecutor to communicate your concerns in a courteous and professional manner.
Mr. Patrick Fitzgerald, United States Attorney, Northern District of Illinois
219 South Dearborn Avenue, Room 5000
Chicago, IL 60604
Phone 312-353-1414, Fax 312-353-4324
· Ask that Mr. Muhammad Salah’s trial be conducted in the American tradition of openness and fairness.
· Articulate that the US constitution guarantees the right to a fair and public trial and the US justice system is based on the principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty and the right that an accused be informed of the nature cause of the accusations against them.
· Express your concern that this closed hearing is a violation of Mr. Salah’s 6th Amendment right to a full, fair and public trial.
· We believe that the use of confessions and or evidence extracted through the use of torture is a violation of human and civil rights and should not be admissible in court.
· While secret or classified evidence and closed hearings have been used in the past, this practice serves to alienate communities and foster mistrust between people and the government.