Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Legal roundup

Another of our occasional updates on legal matters. Last week we posted about Irish citizen Viktor Kozeny, who is sitting in jail in the Bahamas on foot of an indictment by US authorities in connection with a privatisation scandal in Azerbaijan. As we noted then, his Irish citizenship is a touchy issue, as it pertains both to a now-discredited policy of selling citizenship to investors and to his ability to avoid extradition to the US. Tuesday's Irish Times (subs. req'd) reports on additional odd details:

Fugitive financier Viktor Kozeny has been issued six Irish passports and at least two others from the Czech Republic and Venezuela, according to records shown to The Irish Times. [] magistrate Carolita Bethel has warned that she wants full disclosure of all Irish passports held by Mr Kozeny, who has been dubbed "The Bouncing Czech" by the international press.

The first passport was issued on April 28th, 1995, and expired on April 26th, 2005. The second was issued on January 18th, 1996, and expired on April 26th, 2005 ... Mr Kozeny now had two valid Irish passports, and added that five of Mr Kozeny's 32-page passports had been used up with stamps from various countries he visited.

Frequent requests for replacement passports would be the kind of thing that attracts the attention of the GWOT, but apparently not in this case.

An unrelated matter, except insofar as it also pertains to the lack of confidence in the Irish government in security matters. Monday's IT reported (subs.) that:

Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy has ordered an internal investigation following allegations that gardaí failed to fully investigate the death in Donegal in 2003 of Derry academic and well known republican figure Mary Reid ... Ms Reid (49) was found dead on a beach at the Isle of Doagh, Co Donegal, on January 29th, 2003. An inquest two years ago into her death concluded she died as a result of drowning.

... After the inquest their solicitor Robert Eager issued a statement saying the family had "some doubts about the circumstances of her death" and the fact that none of her missing clothes were found. She was naked from the waist up when she was found. He added that the family was "particularly unhappy about the lack of a comprehensive forensic examination of Ms Reid's car" ...Ms Reid's family and partner were also disappointed that the State Pathologist was not called to the scene to carry out a forensic postmortem.

In a meaningless but blogworthy coincidence, we had indirectly mentioned Mary Reid before; she was part of the scandal that should have brought down Francois Mitterand had the full details been known at the time about the extent of presidential involvement in the operation that set up the "Vincennes Irish."

UPDATE 3 DEC: The Bahamas will seek to extradite Kozeny -- [WSJ, subs. req'd] The Bahamas can begin extradition hearings against an Irish businessman wanted in New York on charges of plotting to bribe government officials in the former Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan, prosecutors said Friday.

Approval for the proceedings against investment promoter Viktor Kozeny was given by Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell, prosecutor Francis Cumberbatch said in magistrate court ... A date for Kozeny's extradition hearings will be determined during his next court appearance on Dec. 12.

FINAL UPDATE 6 JULY 2007: Kozeny is still in the Bahamas and the case against him is in trouble; a judge threw out the conspiracy case against his two US-based co-accused. Apparently the US Department of Justice forgot to make sure that the statute of limitations clock wasn't ticking as they gathered evidence. Who would have thought that a Bush government department might be incompetent?

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