Tuesday, April 24, 2012

United States v. Yousef case brief

United States v. Yousef327 F2d 56 (2d Cir. 2003)
Procedural History:
Appeal of criminal conviction.

Overview:

Ramzi Yousef (D), Wali Khan Amin Shah (D), and Abdul Hakim Murad (D) appealed from judgments of conviction entered in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on charges relating to a conspiracy to bomb twelve U.S. commercial airliners in Southeast Asia. 
-Ramzi Yousef (D) entered Manila under an assumed name in order to execute a plan to attack U.S. airliners. Under the plan, bombs would be placed aboard twelve U.S. aircraft with routes in Southeast Asia by five individuals. The conspirators would board the plane, assemble the bomb while in flight, and then exit the plane during its first layover.
-The plot was discovered two weeks before the intended execution, when Yousef (D) and Murad (D) accidentally started a fire while burning chemicals in their Manila apartment. The fire department involved the police department, which found the bomb components, a laptop with notes on the plan, and other evidence. Philippine authorities arrested Murad (D) and Shah (D), but Shah (D) escaped and evaded capture until a year later. Yousef (D) fled to Pakistan, but was captured the following month. Through a multi-count indictment, Yousef (D), Murad (D), and Shah (D) were charged with various crimes related to their conspiracy to bomb the planes. A jury found all three guilty on all counts.

Issue:
Did the U.S. government (P) exceed its authority by trying an alleged terrorist in the United States, when the criminal conduct occurred outside the United States, but involved its airliners?

Rule:

The US government did not exceed its authority by trying an alleged terrorist in the US when the criminal conduct occurred outside the US but involved its airlines

Analysis:

The Tokyo Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft generally regulates jurisdiction over crimes committed on aircraft International law generally requires that there be a genuine link between the state and the aircraft in order for the state to lawfully assert jurisdiction over crimes committed on board.

Outcome:

-The U.S. government (P) did not exceed its authority by trying an alleged terrorist in the United States, when the criminal conduct occurred outside the United States but involved its airliners. jurisdiction is supported by both domestic and international law.
-Because the federal court had jurisdiction over the substantive crimes charged, including attempted destruction of aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, it also had derivative jurisdiction over the conspiracy charges.
-Congress is presumed to intend extraterritorial application of criminal statutes where the nature of the crime does not depend on the locality of the criminal acts and where restricting the statute to U.S. territory would severely diminish the statute’s effectiveness. With respect to whether customary international law provides a basis for jurisdiction over the case, United States law is not subordinate to customary international law or necessarily subordinate to treaty based international law. Moreover, customary international law does provide a substantial basis for jurisdiction by the United States through the “passive personality principle,” because the case involved a plot to bomb U.S. aircraft that would have been carrying U.S. citizens and crews destined for cities in the United States. jurisdiction is also appropriate under the “objective territorial principle” because the purpose of the attack was to influence U.S. foreign policy.
-Finally, Yousef’s (D) conduct constitutes conduct proscribed by the Montreal Convention, and his prosecution and conviction is both consistent with and required by the United States’ treaty obligations and domestic law.

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