Category Archives: presumption of innocence

Presumption of guilt

Dalrymple was very unfavourably impressed by Tariq Ramadan on the single occasion that he met him.

He seemed to me the Jimmy Swaggart of Islamism, or at least the kind of man from whom one would certainly not buy a second-hand car. He had the affability of a carpet salesman in a souk, but without the charm; his affability struck me as sinister.

Ramadan is known for

his way of talking in one register to a certain kind of audience and in a completely different register to another kind of audience.

In order that that we, his readers, do not have to endure them, Dalrymple has actually read a couple of Ramadan’s books. They bear

the same relationship to scholarship as football commentary does to playing football.

Contempt of court

Without the scales: Crumlin Road Courthouse

Sans scales: Crumlin Road Courthouse

All the same, says Dalrymple, Ramadan’s arrest for alleged rape, and his subsequent questioning by the police, raises disturbing questions.

Here was a man who so far had been found guilty of nothing.

Ramadan was,

de facto, being described publicly as guilty.

Dalrymple points out that Ramadan has not been proved guilty. It is, he reminds us,

wrong that information intended to be damning should be paraded before the public prior to a proper trial and verdict.

One of the greatest achievements of our civilisation

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 08.33.25The presumption of innocence, writes Dalrymple,

does not apply only to those about whose physical violation of the law there remains some doubt. It applies to every accused person without ­exception.

Without this noble lie, justice

becomes the mere exercise of power, arbitrary and likely to be cruel.

It does not come naturally,

as looking at the faces of most of the accused in any law court will quickly persuade you. It takes considerable self-control to entertain the possibility that a man who looks so malign may yet be innocent.

A disgusting American ritual

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 07.58.21The French public, writes Dalrymple,

was rightly appalled

by the way in which the US criminal justice system treated Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The case against him was dropped, but not before he was made to undertake the perpetrator or ‘perp’ walk, which was

not only humiliating but prejudicial, for the very name of this disgusting but now commonplace ritual is contrary to the presumption of innocence.

The judge

presumed DSK’s guilt when she said that his rushed attempt to catch the flight, which he had long booked in advance, indicated a risk of absconding. Although to this day he has not been found guilty of any crime, his life has been, if not ruined exactly, at least profoundly affected by the way in which he was treated.