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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04DJIBOUTI595 2004-04-21 12:28:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Djibouti
Cable title:  

JUSTICE REROUTED, AMCIT SENTENCED

Tags:   CMGT KJUS CASC CJAN PHUM PREL ECON EINV KISL DJ 
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					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DJIBOUTI 000595 

SIPDIS

DEPT. FOR LOYE HOWELL, KINSHASA FOR DAPHNE TITUS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/19/2014
TAGS: CMGT KJUS CASC CJAN PHUM PREL ECON EINV KISL DJ
SUBJECT: JUSTICE REROUTED, AMCIT SENTENCED

REF: A. DJIBOUTI 110

B. DJIBOUTI 133

Classified By: CONOFF CHASE BEAMER FOR REASON 1.4 (D)

SUMMARY
---------



1. (U) U.S. Citizen Alan Funk (PPT# 156160695) has received a
six month suspended prison sentence and a 1.6 million DF
(U.S.$9,040) fine from the Djiboutian court of appeals for
his role in a March 2000 traffic accident in which a
Djiboutian man was killed. Funk was absolved of any
wrongdoing in the same case by a criminal court in November
of 2000. The overturning of the case four years later
appears to involve serious and fraudulent misapplications of
justice by the Djiboutian court of appeals. If the decision
stands upon second appeal to the Djiboutian Supreme Court USG
intervention may be required to protect the rights of this
American Citizen. End Summary.

THE ACCIDENT AND INITIAL VERDICT


--------------------------





2. (U) American Citizen Warden Alan Funk (PPT# 156160695), an
employee of International Development Relief Board (IDRB), a
non-governmental organization, was sentenced to six months
suspended imprisonment and 1.6 million DF (U.S.$9,040) in
damages by a Djiboutian appeals court on April 17, 2004 for
his role in a March, 2000 traffic accident in which a man was
killed. The sentence comes nearly four years after Funk was
found innocent by a criminal court of any wrongdoing in
November of 2000. Funk's local attorney has appealed, to
the Djiboutian Supreme Court, the appeals' court overturning
and subsequent sentencing.



3. (U) Funk reported to Conoff that in March of 2000, despite
his best efforts to avoid contact, the car he was driving
struck and killed a Djiboutian pedestrian on the Route
D'Arta, the only paved road departing Djibouti City. Funk
claims the man he struck was naked, deranged, and wandering
aimlessly along the fast moving road. Funk claims he later
heard that the man had been chained to a tree in his family's
compound before escaping to wander onto the highway.
Eyewitness testimony by a Djiboutian citizen presented to the
criminal court was largely responsible for his acquittal in
November of 2000.



4. (U) Funk received notice on April 17 that the Djiboutian
court of appeals had overturned the criminal court's 2000
decision. According to Funk's legal council, French citizen
Alain Martinet (note: also Post's legal retainer), the
aggrieved party (the deranged man's family) had two years to
file an appeal to the criminal court's decision. When Funk's
legal council raised this with the Appeals Court, the Appeals
Court responded that the "registry had been lost" and thus it
was impossible to say when the appeal had been filed. Funk
believes the family is upset that they have not received any
compensation for the death as they might have under
traditional Somali conflict resolution practices and so now
want to seek damages in civil court. Funk's acquittal in
2000 makes it nearly impossible for the family to win any
damages in civil court but if this appeals court conviction
stands, the family's case in civil court would be much
stronger.

POLITICAL BACKDROP


--------------------------





5. (C) This case is the second apparent misapplication of
justice (see reftels) at the appeals court level in Djibouti.
At the behest of Exxon-Mobil, post had encouraged the
Djiboutian government to remove or otherwise sanction several
corrupt appeals court judges. Post received strong but
informal messages from the Minister of Justice, the Minister
of Foreign Affairs, and the Minister of the Presidency that
"the matter will be taken care of." To date, post has seen
no positive governmental action on the matter. To the
contrary, two of the most notorious judges were recently
named to head the controversial "cours de contentieux." This
is the branch of the appeals court which handles abuses of
power and the post had been vacant for some eight years as
highlighted in the Department's 2003 Human Rights Report on
Djibouti.

COMMENT


--------------------------





6. (C) In light of recent Embassy approaches to Djiboutian
officials on the urgent need for judicial reform, this
seemingly mundane traffic "manslaughter" is notable. Four
years after his acquittal, in a case that resembles
Exxon-Mobil's problems with forged court records and lost
files, this respected American Citizen Warden who has worked
in East Africa for over 20 years is convicted and sentenced
by the very court at the heart of Embassy concerns. We can
only speculate whether this apparent miscarriage of justice
is also motivated by showing the Embassy who defines the
"rule of law" in Djibouti. Regardless, we will continue
working with Exxon-Mobil on their case, and wait to see if
this case must be added to our grievance list. End comment.
RAGSDALE