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May 4, 2006
France Wants Moussaoui Back

The French have apparently not let the ink dry on the jury submission from yesterday's sentencing recommendation in the Zacarias Moussaoui trial before starting to interfere with its implementation. Le Monde reports today that French officials have contacted the US in hopes of transferring Moussaoui to France in order to serve his sentence (h/t: CQ reader Leo T):

Un éventuel transfèrement de Zacarias Moussaoui en France, contre qui un jury américain a requis la prison à perpétuité, pourrait être examiné dans le cadre de conventions judiciaires avec les Etats-Unis, a affirmé jeudi le ministère des Affaires étrangères français.

"La France et les Etats-Unis d'Amérique sont liés par deux conventions sur le transfèrement des personnes condamnées, une convention bilatérale du 25 janvier 1983 et une convention du Conseil de l'Europe entrée en vigueur le 1er juillet 1985", a déclaré à la presse le porte-parole du Quai d'Orsay, Jean-Baptiste Mattéi.

My high-school French is rather poor these days (thank heaven for BabelFish!), but the gist of this report is that France wants to rely on two bilateral conventions to extradite Moussaoui when sentencing is complete. They wish to explore the transfer of the al-Qaeda terrorist to French custody to serve out his sentence, supposedly under American law, but with an eye towards their own brand of justice. The conventions mentioned in the article date to 1983 and 1985, and give specific processes for the transfer of French citizens convicted in American courts, as well as the reverse.

The French show the minimum respect for American sensibilities by announcing they will wait until after the formal sentencing today to request this extradition. Moussaoui's mother has publicly pressed the Chirac government to allow the erstwhile terrorist to serve his sentence nearby, and to do so as soon as possible.

This is a small taste of what would have occurred if the jury had given Moussaoui the death penalty. The French government would have given this much more visibility even today had that occurred, and it would have continued for years until we executed the supposedly mentally ill terrorist. As it is, if the French want to confirm American opinion of their nation, then they should by all means pursue this diplomatic effort. It will give us plenty of opportunity to remind the Chirac government of its lack of fidelity in its pledge to support us if we went back to the Security Council just once more on Iraq. We can also talk about all of the bilateral efforts between Paris and Baghdad that undermined the sanctions regime, sent military arms to Saddam Hussein, and paid bribes and kickbacks to the Ba'athist regime that Oil-For-Food specifically sought to sideline.

If the French get their hands on Moussaoui, we will only wake up a few years later to French pronouncements of miracle cures and rehabilitation, and watch the video of the AQ terrorist gleefully leaving the French prison over the protests of the American government. We do not wish to rely on French tenacity in the war on terror; we learned that lesson a long time ago. Let the French try to invoke whatever treaties they want to request Moussaoui's extradition, and let them stomp their feet when we tell them to pound sand.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 4, 2006 7:12 AM

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