Friday December 02, 2022

Arif Naqvi will be at mercy of gangsters in US prisons, court told

December 17, 2020

LONDON: Two key witnesses have told the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in the Abraaj Group founder Arif Naqvi’s extradition trial that the Pakistani national’s life will be at risk if extradited to the United States as he will be at the mercy of violent gang members who operate in the US prisons. At the last day of Naqvi’s extradition hearing before District Judge Emma Arbuthnot, witnesses told the court that gangs operate freely in US prisons.

The second and last day’s first witness, James Troisi, previously a correctional officer at the ECC, told the court “it would be a very brief period of time before Naqvi’s status would be common knowledge. There are gangs and career criminals in every housing unit."

He also spoke of the occasional collusion between certain guards and inmates.

One officer was stated to have been federally prosecuted for racketeering because he was operating a drug ring inside the prison with assistance of a gang member. He also noted that assaults on the prison staff are up 80% year on year; when asked about assaults on prisoners by the staff, he commented: “I don’t have the figures, but the figures tell me if assaults on staff are up, assaults on prisoners are up too.”

The witness told the court that violence can and does regularly occur between prisoners and reaction of the guards to incidents in too many cases is slow.

The witness said his knowledge was current, as confirmed, and stated he continues to frequent the ECC and has “almost daily contact” with other correctional officers who still work there.

When Trosi began to dispel evidence provided by the US government’s witnesses, the US barrister, Mark Summers QC attacked him and said words to the effect of calling him just a “guard”. Trosi rebutted later by adding his credentials and confirmed when asked that there were no more than five people who had the intimate knowledge of ECC than him.

Discrediting the US government’s statements, he said: “The US lawyer is quoting policy. What she says is in line with the policy. But it is not in line with the practice. As someone who was part of writing the policies, I do not agree that this is how it actually happens.”

He also pointed out that when asked about the warden and director’s reports: “I believe that they are putting a rosy spin on this. I don’t believe they’re directly lying to the court but I believe their jobs depend on them putting the facility in a rosy light and it’s just simply not the case.”

Further evidence was also given by Joshua Dratel, a respected US lawyer, on the reliability of the US assurance, casting doubts on its veracity and validity, claiming he had every reason to believe that despite being assured Naqvi would be at the ECC when brought to the US. Since Jeffery Epstein’s suicide at the Metropolitan Correctional Centre, the prison has been under scrutiny and has been found to have extremely inhumane conditions which have been subject to exploration of Article 3 human rights arguments.

He was also asked, if he had experience or reason to believe that if extradited, the US Marshals service may ignore or go against the assurance given to the UK court. Dratel said: “Yes”, further stating “she [US Marshals] is not talking about what is going to happen in 18 months; she is talking about when he is extradited. And once that happens, British courts will have no ability to enforce anything, once he is in the US. This assurance does not reflect what will happen down the road.”

What continues to be strange is why the US continues to argue about the prisons in which Naqvi would be held, given they have also stated earlier in July that he would have bail -- an argument which Naqvi’s lawyers said could not be upheld on its face value.

Final written submissions are due from both sides by January 8th with an initial judgment from the Chief Magistrate by the end of January.