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Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Rape - it's what juries are for

The papers - and particularly the Guardian - are heavy with opinion pieces arising from the alleged bedroom behaviour of Julian Assange, ranging from the shrill castrate-'em-all feminazis to the angels-on-a-pinhead legislators who see the solution in making each act of intercourse akin to a passport visa application. It seems we're still not grown up enough to trust a legal process that on the whole works quite well.

Rape is rightly an indictable offence; imagine some female Roland Freisler like District Judge exercising their prejudices. It quite rightly takes a jury to convict. To prove guilt, there must be both actus reus and mens rea; rape cannot ever be a strict liability crime. Moreover, unlike a complex long-firm fraud or international VAT 'carousel' evasion case, pretty much every member of the jury will have a clear understanding of the processes and issues at hand. It's exactly the sort of criminal accusation that English juries were made to hear.   


Manganese said...

What Assange fears is probable extradition to the US to a fate unknown. The issue of rape is a convenient peg, for those unsympathetic to Assange, on which to hang their prejudices. Assange would return to Sweden to answer those charges but will not do so without a guarantee that he won't end up in the US. This is the issue.

G. Tingey said...

Replying to Raedwald
There should be NO "Strict Liability" crimes.
They are an offence against the Bill of Rights.

Assange is now "merely" being enquired after with respect to some vague sxual offence under investigation. HE HAS NOT BEEN CHARGED.
Reading the late-7-suspiciously-convenient accounts against him, I'm afraid "put-uip-job" signals scream in my mind.

Assange has repeatedly stated that he is quite prepared to meet Swedish investigators here, and answer questions.

No, the US want him ....

cuffleyburgers said...

In this case I agree with G Tingey

Sebastian Weetabix said...

I agree with Tingey. Where I differ is I think we should send him. This vile narcissist published, unredacted, the names and addresses of people co-operating with NATO in Afghanistan. When challenged on this very point (by the crazed right wing Grauniad) he responded "they've got it coming". He is a soap-dodging scumbag who should serve time.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

For once I'm with G Tingey.

Anonymous said...

Am I alone in thinking that, say, it was David Cameron accused of 'bad sexual etiquette', George Galloway would be so loud in his defence?

Edward Spalton said...

Hello Greg,

Delighted to agree with you (I think)

But it all depends what you mean by "strict liability".

A strict liability offence does not reduce the burden of proof. Most of the offences under the wartime defence regulations were "strict liability"
i.e. if you were showing a light in the blackout, if you had left your car without immobilising it by removing the distributor, if you had used fuel by driving of a journey of less than a certain distance, you were guilty - but it had to be proved.

Mostly, when people were caught by the air raid warden or policeman, they pleaded guilty and got a very stiff fine - but the case had to go to court.

It is a very different thing for somebody to be accused/convicted on the single, uncorroborated evidence of somebody who may have a grudge. There is such a rape case going on locally at the moment and it seems very unfair that, as the case is reported, the accused is identified and that photographs of him are produced on every day of the hearing whilst the accuser remains anonymous.

When Mr. Speaker's wife goes on something called a "slutwalk" with the slogan "My slutty dress doesn't mean yes", you begin to realise that we are in strange territory here. Her participation was caused by a Canadian policeman who remarked that, if women dressed modestly, they would be less likely to be molested.

Anonymous said...

I disagree, a more relaxed labiality and stiffer members could ease the issue, long evasion cases will, pretty or not, issue at hand.

G. Tingey said...

I was particularly thinking of "Posession of a firearm" like your dead husband's (was legally-held) weapon ... 67-year old woman facing automatic 4 year stretch.

There will ALWAYS be the odd case where mitigating or strange circumstances obtain.
So, even if "guilty" there MUST be flexibility.

Or cases (largely unreported) of people FINDING firearms, reporting this to the poplice, taking them TO THE POLICE STATION ... and being arrested.
Yes, the plod were bing stupid, aggrssive & bastards, but, because of "strict liability" they were able to get away with it.
Admittedly, in both case I know of, a wriggle-out was eventually found, but, without strict liability, this could not have happened.
The nastier cops LOVE Strict Liability - can you see why?

Anonymous said...

From The Talking Clock

An Australian journalist and whistleblower annoyed the Americans for blowing the whistle on wrongdoings through Wikileaks. Whilst the said Australian was in Sweden, a claim of dodgy sex after a session of consensual sex appears to have been made but Swedish authorities didn’t bother to question Assange about it while he was in Sweden.

Doggedly pursued by the Americans for blowing on whistles, the Australian journalist finds himself in London, England where – after finding the “UK Government” now ignores Habeas Corpus and English law in favour of EU “arrest warrants” which require no evidence – the Australian is forced to seek political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy to save himself from a trip to America via Stockholm.

The Swedish are invited to interview Assange about allegations against him – for which he has not been charged – from the safety of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London but the Swedish authorities will settle for nothing less than extradition for questioning (despite a lack of charges) and they are banking on the UK delivering on that extradition of the Australian national through a made-in-Belgium European Arrest Warrant which requires no evidence, no trial, denies Habeas Corpus and is a pile of EU insanity, nay, tyranny!


G. Tingey said...

"Now that Andrew Kreig, of the Justice Integrity Project, has confirmed Karl Rove’s role as an advisor to the Swedish government in its prosecution of Julian Assange on sexual misconduct charges, it is important that we note the many glaring aberrations in the handling of Assange’s case by the authorities in Sweden."

From This article should really ring some alarm bells.

Should it not?