Home By Marquel Presumed Guilty

Presumed Guilty

Iran Sets Trial Date for Washington Post Reporter Jason Rezaian, read Marquel, TPVs NYTimes Just Ask Alice Section correspondent. Marquel understood there is no evidence at all indicating the reporter is a spy. Without evidence, can there really be a trial? Marquel never really thought about it much, but he realized that evidence is what a trial is all about. Sure, the government charges a crime. But the trial is where evidence supports, or doesn’t, the charge. So evidence is central and here there is none.

“Well the trial is closed and secret, so you will never know what evidence there is,” said Mahmoud, a former Revolutionary Guard who now serves as press officer for the Iranian consul.

“Will the defendant?” Asked Marquel.

“First, he must understand Persian. Then he must listen very well because the evidence just takes seconds to run it by.”

“But I heard there was no evidence at all.” Marquel said.

“Then he’ll have to listen even better,” said Mahmoud.

“But if there’s no evidence, there can be nothing to support a decision.” Marquel protested.

“Not necessarily. The lack of evidence can itself be evidence and, in turn, support a verdict.”

“How could no evidence be itself evidence?” Asked Marquel.

“A complete lack of evidence is so unusual that it implies the defendant spent a lot of energy and time covering it up. There could be additional charges: secreting evidence, impeding the courts, and interference with the judicial process. It might also involve what is called spoliation of evidence, a serious crime. I would say this man might be in big trouble for committing so many serious felonies.” He said.

“But that’s just one, somewhat biased, view. Wouldn’t a lack of evidence be even more consistent with innocence?” I asked.

“In the ordinary case, I might agree. But in a case of espionage, you have spies trained to deceive. The very charge of spying indicates evidence that is difficult or impossible to discover. It tends to prove the spying of which he is charged. I would say that in espionage, unlike other cases, the lack of evidence indicates the success of the espionage. The less evidence, the better the spy. According to you, this man was the perfect spy. He hid everything!” Mahmoud exclaimed.

“But he’s been held so long without a trial or even, until recently, charges. How can he get a fair trial?” I asked.

“Believe me, that is a primary concern of the Revolutionary government. We had much to do.”

“Much?” I asked.

“Oh yes. He couldn’t be charged without us being sure what he was guilty of and what punishment was appropriate. Once that is decided, a trial can proceed and be scheduled most efficiently.” He said.

“You’re saying you’ve already decided on the verdict and punishment?” I asked.

“Well naturally we don’t want to try an innocent men, not be unprepared when it’s time to sentence him. That would be extremely cruel and primitive. We are an old old civilization. Many millennia….” He said.

“I’ve heard that. But this sounds like a throwback to Genghis Khan. I heard you even chose a famous jurist, ‘Judge Death,’ who is on the list of EU terrorists, to try him.”

“It seemed highly appropriate to use him under the circumstances.” He said.

“The circumstances being that he’s already been convicted and condemned?” I asked.

“No, no. How could that be. Then we wouldn’t even need a judge. He will not be convicted and condemned until he’s had a trial. I don’t understood you Westerners. We schedule a trial and you get angry. At least we have trials. In over 90% of U.S.criminal cases, there is never even a trial. What’s with you Americans?” He asked me.

“I don’t know. I guess we like trials to precede verdict and sentencing. Ten per cent of the time.”

I left feeling a little silly and hypocritical. It’s just that, compared to the Iranians, at least we seem more fair. Don’t we?

By MARQUEL: Presumed Guilty



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