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Assange: Belmarsh Day 2
A new surprise witness?
STOCKHOLM/LONDON (Rixstep) — Today is the second and final day of the Julian Assange extradition hearings, starting at 10:00 UTC. The case of the Swedes seems more shambolic than could have been predicted after yesterday's formidable 'butchering' by Swedish legal expert and civil rights champion Brita Sundberg-Weitman. But it's not over until the fat lady sings. And justice isn't the same as truth.
Follow Federica Cocco for the best possible coverage.
The start of the today's hearings was delayed one hour in order to deal with the Dewani case.
Sven-Erik Alhem was the first witness today. (Yesterday he worked for the defence.) Sven-Erik spoke of process and how it had been repeatedly abused by Marianne Ny.
Clare Montgomery who represented the crown and the Swedes (and once represented Augustin Pinochet unsuccessfully) repeatedly tried to badger Sven-Erik but got told off. 'Don't interrupt me!' the retired chief prosecutor told her.
Björn Hurtig, Assange's counsel in Sweden, was also present. After being threatened with disbarment for revealing what he'd seen of the as yet undisclosed SMS messages, he consulted with his bar association which gave him the go-ahead and again with authorities in the UK. At time of writing he's rushing to get his flight home at 18:30 UTC from Heathrow.
Björn supplied the levity of the morning when his questioning session broke for lunch and the judge told him he's not allowed to speak to anyone whilst still being interrogated.
'That's OK', Björn told the judge. 'My mamma taught me to not talk with food in my mouth.'
Björn laid out the timetable for Marianne Ny's on again off again dance about further interrogating Julian Assange. Montgomery tried to light into him a few times; he not only held his own but came out way on top. She was trying to insinuate Assange had fled Sweden because he knew he'd be arrested but Björn made it perfectly clear this was not the case.
Montgomery also tried to 'over-interpret' Björn's SMS messages with Ny which were evidently translated on the spot by Björn, trying to insinuate Björn somewhere should have understood Assange would be arrested.
One tack she used was the need for a possible DNA test. But surely he would have to return to Sweden for a DNA test, she suggested. Not at all, replied the prepared Björn calmly, citing recent Swedish precedents.
Björn also cited at least one occasion when Marianne Ny turned down an interrogation date on a Saturday with Assange because she would have to have had incurred the additional expense of paying a policeman 'overtime'.
She also repeatedly refused to provide documentation to Assange according to European law but would not write down her reasons for Björn and would only reveal on the telephone: 'it's technical'.
Geoffrey Robertson then got to question his own witness and in a few fell swoops ended the discussion once and for all. Couldn't a DNA test be performed through Mutual Legal Assistance, asked Robertson. Of course it could.
But the coup de grace came when Robertson asked Björn:
Do you know why Marianne Ny could not attend court in Britain this week?
Closing arguments will be held Friday 11 February at 10:30.
As yesterday, the big H/T (and it's a big one) goes to Federica Cocco (@federicacocco) who in two days of reporting from Belmarsh tweeted almost 14,000 words and left all the other journos in the dust.
If I am able to reveal what I know, everyone will realise this is all a charade. If I could tell the British courts, I suspect it would make extradition a moot point.
- Björn Hurtig
I can tell you that the Swedish prosecution still hasn't provided copies of those SMS texts that have been referred to. Those texts are some of the most powerful exculpatory evidence. In Australia prosecutors have a very grave duty to disclose such evidence to courts when seeking the grave exercise of a court's power against an individual. Yet in Sweden in this case, in the first hearings to obtain an arrest warrant, those texts were not submitted to the Swedish court, which is highly improper.
- James Catlin
Assange in Sweden: The Police Protocol (Translated)
Finers Stephens Innocent: The Julian Assange Case Papers
Industry Watch: Assange: The Hornets Nest
Hall of Monkeys: Three Women II: The Sex War
Sunday Times: Accuser snapped me in the nude
Red Hat Diaries: How to Rape Julian Assange Twice
WikiLeaks: Support WikiLeaks
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