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Federal appeals court denies jurisdiction over US citizen facing Iraqi death penalty

[JURIST] A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] ruled Friday that it lacks authority to interfere [opinion text, PDF] with an Iraqi court conviction and pending death sentence for US citizen Mohammad Munaf [JURIST news archive], and could not grant a writ of habeas corpus. The court recognized that Munaf, convicted of kidnapping three Romanian journalists in Baghdad [Guardian report] and subsequently sentenced to death, was at the mercy of the Central Criminal Court of Iraq, and outside of US jurisdiction. It rejected Munaf's argument of rights granted by virtue of his US citizenship, and emphasized that although he is currently in the custody of US forces, those forces are part of the Multi-National Force-Iraq [official website], and cannot be seen in a light that grants jurisdiction by US courts.

Munaf previously sought protection from the US Supreme Court [JURIST report], but the court declined to hear his case [JURIST report]. Munaf says there were errors in his Iraqi trial, and that his confession to the charges was coerced. AP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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