Today’s news: our government has started expelling Russian diplomats, over their failure to extradite the murder suspect Andrei Lugovoi. There may be other subplots, but that’s what they’re telling us.
Should Lugovoi stand trial? Probably yes.
Could he expect a fair trial in the UK? Emphatically no! We have a dismal history of unsafe convictions in highly political trials of foreigners. Numerous convictions of Irish people for IRA terrorist outrages overturned as unsafe after many years – Birmingham six, Guildford four, etc, etc. And the Irish are not very foreign. A highly politicised trial of the Lockerbie Two, and a conviction of one of them that nobody trusts. Can’t blame the Russians for not wanting to expose their citizen to that.
That’s even if they could legally extradite him!
Could he be tried in another country? As I understand it, the Russians have offered to conduct a trial there. Would an international court be another option? If so, has either side proposed it?
As for extradition, isn’t the UK a haven for people who are wanted for serious crimes in quite a lot of countries? Even when they have no claim to Britishness, it can be very difficult to extradite them. Most famously in recent times, look at the Pinochet case.
Talk about double-standards!
But it’s worse than that. The Russians want to extradite Berezovsky, a man who poses a real and current threat to them. There’s a similar argument about whether he could expect a fair trial in Russia. But refusing to extradite him doesn’t have to mean giving him carte blanche to use his ill-gotten billions to work for the violent overthrow of an imperfect but nevertheless democratically-elected government. So long as we do that, the Russians have a legitimate grievance that dwarfs anything else in the relationship.
Todays news is yet another announcement that makes me ashamed to be British. The first under the Brown government.