Kaysee: Lady Justice and Two Significant Cases

A cursory view of the cases discussed here, may suggest that they are two discrete cases. They couldn’t have much in common. Or could they?

The case of George Pell has attracted a huge interest not just in this country, but around the world. For those seriously interested in facts and evidence, there has been a great deal of information available through various sources: media accounts and reports, discussions, analysis, legal documents, judgements and court records. For those serious about the truth, all that research and analysis has led to one verdict.

Back in August 2019, the sane sections of the world were convinced that the decision from the Court of Appeal would be a unanimous one of acquittal. After all, these were judges of the Supreme Court of Victoria. They would be ruling by the law, by facts, by evidence. They were not a panel of lay jury who do not need to justify their Yea or Nay. But, it did not work out that way. The majority dismissed the appeal.

The case is now before the High Court, the highest court in the Australian judicial system. It is the final chance for Pell to have his conviction overturned. The case is scheduled for a hearing in March.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at another case. A case in Pakistan, a country with a population of over 200 million. Around 96% are Muslims.

This is the case of Asia Bibi, a poor Christian farm labourer, who was convicted for blasphemy in 2010 under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, for allegedly uttering derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad. The offence carries mandatory death penalty under the law.

She was tried and found guilty by the mob. Anyone who dared to speak out in support of Bibi, put their own lives in danger.

  • Punjab Governor, Salman Taseer, appealed to the government for her release, and promised to reform the blasphemy law. A few weeks later, he was murdered by his own security guard, who shot him repeatedly, at close range, in the middle of a shopping centre.
  • Pakistan’s Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a fellow Christian, had supported Bibi, and had also urged reforming the blasphemy law. He was assassinated on his way to work, hit by a hail of bullets as he sat in his car.
  • Human rights lawyer Saif-ul-Malook, heard of Bibi’s plight and took on her case. After her acquittal in 2018, Malook had to flee the country after receiving death threats. (He has since returned, but even now, he and his family are under police protection.)

While Asia Bibi sat in prison, the case worked its way through the lower courts, and finally landed at the door of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court of Pakistan is the highest appellate court of the country and court of last resort. It is the final arbiter of the law and the Constitution. [1]

Despite the risk to their safety and their lives, the judges of the Supreme Court studied the case, and pronounced their judgement based on the law and facts and evidence. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel overturned the death sentence of Bibi in October 2018. They acquitted Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, in a Muslim-majority country.

Justice Nisar was due to retire in January [2019]. There was speculation he could have delayed the announcement of the verdict, until after his retirement. Instead, he went ahead and took the deliberate risk of becoming a target of the vigilante groups. [2]

The 56-page verdict written by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar highlighted the following: [3]

“It is a well settled principle of law that one who makes an assertion has to prove it. Thus, the onus rests on the prosecution to prove guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt throughout the trial…

“Presumption of innocence remains throughout the case until such time the prosecution on the evidence satisfies the court beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of the offence alleged against him.

“[…] The expression ‘proof beyond reasonable doubt’ is of fundamental importance to the criminal justice: it is one of the principles which seeks to ensure that no innocent person is convicted.

“Keeping in mind the evidence produced by the prosecution against the alleged blasphemy committed by the appellant, the prosecution has categorically failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.”

Also:

“It is ironical that in the Arabic language the appellant’s name Asia means ‘sinful’,” reads the judgment written by Justice Asif Khosa, “but in the circumstances of the present case she appears to be a person, in the words of Shakespeare’s King Lear, ‘more sinned against than sinning’.”  [4]

For anti-blasphemy leaders, Asia Bibi’s case offered the court a chance to make up for [the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri, the self-confessed killer of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer] by letting her hang too. Apart from offering a quid pro quo, this would have turned Asia Bibi into a legally sanctioned example of what would happen when someone is accused of blasphemy the next time. [2] Justice Khosa (who had headed the bench in the case of Qadri’s death sentence) ran a greater risk, but had decided not to set this questionable precedent.

This rather telling summation of the verdict was made in DAWN [5] (emphasis added):

The Supreme Court’s judgement — a seismic event in the country’s history, judicial or otherwise — heavily referenced Islamic teachings and tradition, but ultimately relied on an assessment of facts and evidence to support the overturning of the earlier conviction.

Asia Bibi was finally able to leave Pakistan in May 2019, after being granted asylum in Canada, where she lives in a secret location.

Back to George Pell, and the final verdict from the High Court expected next month. The evidence, at the most basic level, suggests doubt of his guilt on the charges for which he has been convicted. A closer scrutiny of the evidence, would suggest his innocence. Either way, based on the premise: beyond a reasonable doubt, he should be acquitted.

The alternative—not just of Pell dying in prison as a guilty man, but the death of justice in this country—is too terrifying to contemplate.

For both the Bibi and Pell cases:

  • An acquittal does not result in true freedom: the baying mobs are out there. So, the innocent have to be moved to secret locations for safety reasons.
  • The accused, in both cases, are Christians.
    One, a citizen in a Muslim-majority country in the East, with its roots in Islamic law.
    The other, a citizen in what used to be a Christian-majority country in the West, with its roots in the Judaeo-Christian traditions.
  • There is a corruption in the system, that has permitted such cases (baseless allegations of blasphemy and sexual abuse) to end up in the courts.
    Who is going to dig up the dirt, so that the rot is removed to prevent these recurrences? Will there be penalties for falsehoods, false witnesses and their enablers?

Asia Bibi has been acquitted after spending several years in prison, for a crime she didn’t commit. After the case went through its legal processes, the judges of the highest court in Pakistan assessed facts and evidence to make their final judgement.

We can only hope that Lady Justice will do the same for George Pell.

Sources:

[1] Supreme Court of Pakistan website

[2] Asia Bibi: Pakistan Supreme Court’s ‘historic’ ruling

[3] BREAKING NEWS: Asia Bibi is to be freed!

[4] Blasphemy of Christian Pakistani Woman Overturned

[5] These 7 points explain the Supreme Court’s decision to free Aasia Bibi

[6] The Pakistani lawyer putting his life on the line

[7] LUMS Law Journal: A Critical Review of Asia Bibi Case

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21 Responses to Kaysee: Lady Justice and Two Significant Cases

  1. Gwendolyn

    Praying for Cardinal Pell while reading Luke 18:6-8.

  2. stackja

    Jurors to hear legal secrets in child abuse cases
    YONI BASHAN
    NSW POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT
    @yoni_bashan
    10:30PM FEBRUARY 25, 2020

    The NSW reforms, likely to be supported by the opposition, will also make it easier for multiple victims to give evidence against the same offender in the one trial setting, rather than having to do so in separate, siloed proceedings.

    Until now, such joint trials, as they are known legally, have been possible but difficult to achieve; defence lawyers have successfully argued that evidence of past convictions, or untested allegations of similar behaviour, would unjustly prejudice a jury into handing down a guilty verdict.

    Exceptions have been made, but only when the evidence was found to “substantially outweigh” this prejudice, and as a legal bar, this has often been too high for prosecutors to reach. The result has been a low number of convictions, far lower than the average for other crimes.

    In NSW, about 50 per cent of child abuse matters are ­finalised with a conviction, compared with about 90 per cent for most other crimes, an official said.

    theaustralian.com.au – linky

    Why only some cases? Violent past not allowed in violence trials.
    Could defence ask about ”victim’s past”? In the Pell case much about the “victims” is kept secret. Justice for all?

  3. cohenite

    The prohibition against admitting an accused’s record is based on similar fact evidence where just because a similar offence was committed by the accused in the past doesn’t mean in of itself that the accused committed the current offence which is similar in nature. The reverse applies to the accused, whether they have a history of making false accusations before and whether that should be raised. It’s a vexed issue.

  4. Struth

    FMD.
    We are talking about a high court so left wing it believes aliens to this country can’t be considered such based on their race, and that your correct race can tie you spiritually to land more than other races, even if you’ve never been there, and if you only have one poofteenth of it you can’t even prove.

  5. Gwendolyn

    We are talking about a high court so left wing it believes aliens to this country can’t be considered such based on their race, and that your correct race can tie you spiritually to land more than other races, even if you’ve never been there, and if you only have one poofteenth of it you can’t even prove.

    I used to worry about the Chief Justice because as a woman who would choose a hairstyle to make you look like Julia Gillard, but as things turned out it’s the other Liberal appointed Judges we have to really worry about.

  6. FelixKruell

    For those seriously interested in facts and evidence, there has been a great deal of information available through various sources: media accounts and reports, discussions, analysis, legal documents, judgements and court records. For those serious about the truth, all that research and analysis has led to one verdict…..Back to George Pell, and the final verdict from the High Court expected next month. The evidence, at the most basic level, suggests doubt of his guilt on the charges for which he has been convicted. A closer scrutiny of the evidence, would suggest his innocence. Either way, based on the premise: beyond a reasonable doubt, he should be acquitted.

    You haven’t seen the evidence. None of us have. Yet you happily make conclusions about it? The people who have seen it were largely not so sure he should be acquitted. Quite the opposite.

    There is a corruption in the system, that has permitted such cases (baseless allegations of blasphemy and sexual abuse) to end up in the courts.

    Given Pell has been convicted in one court, and had his appeal denied in another, I struggle to see any evidence of this ‘corruption in the system’ that led to the case coming to court? Usually baseless cases don’t make it through two sets of Court…

  7. I_am_not_a_robot

    There is no point speculating on the outcome of the Pell appeal and aftermath except whatever the final judgement there will be those who will refuse to accept it.

  8. the sting

    Suggest everyone read Sir Ken Jones evidence to the Lawyer X Royal Commission and you will begin to realise how corrupt the legal system is in Victoria .

  9. candy

    The HC judges at this point must be wondering which side to side with and the meaning of beyond reasonable doubt.

    I do think they would also be wondering also about how much belief and faith a good section of the population, mostly conservative types, will lose in the judicial system whey they do uphold the guilty verdict – without a skerrick of evidence except a few words by a young person who was a drug taker/dealer and could not remember details anyway. And do they care but just need that peaceful life away from the baying mob of the Left?

  10. stackja

    NSW Police drop DV charge against NRL player.

  11. John A

    FelixKruell #3335254, posted on February 26, 2020, at 9:57 am

    Given Pell has been convicted in one court, and had his appeal denied in another, I struggle to see any evidence of this ‘corruption in the system’ that led to the case coming to court? Usually, baseless cases don’t make it through two sets of Court…

    Try that on Michael & Lindy Chamberlain and see how far you get!

  12. FelixKruell

    John:

    Try that on Michael & Lindy Chamberlain and see how far you get!

    There are always exceptions – hence the ‘usually’ bit.

    But to make an assertion of corruption, it helps to have some basis for that claim.

  13. stackja

    Relieved Reynolds opens up about his nine ‘tumultuous’ weeks
    Wests Tigers star Josh Reynolds has told of his sheer relief at the police’s move to drop a charge of domestic violence levelled against him by his ex Arabella Del Busso, describing the nine weeks since he was charged as “tumultuous” and “difficult”.

    Danielle Gusmaroli and David Riccio, The Daily Telegraph
    Subscriber only
    |
    February 26, 2020 3:06pm

    Wests Tigers star Josh Reynolds has told of his sheer relief at the police’s move to drop a charge of domestic violence levelled against him by his ex Arabella Del Busso, describing the nine weeks since he was charged as “tumultuous” and “difficult”.

    Speaking for the first time since the decision today to drop the charge of assault occasioning bodily harm brought by model Arabella Del Busso, Reynolds said his arrest has plagued his 2020 NRL preparation and affected his reputation.

    ARABELLA DEL BUSSO RESPONDS
    Del Busso this afternoon said she has been left “shocked” at the police decision not to pursue the case and has instructed her lawyer to find out why it was dropped.

    “We have received no formal communications from NSW Police and we have not been informed of the reasons for their decision to drop domestic violence and assault charges against Mr Reynolds,” her lawyer Rhys Roberts told the Daily Telegraph.

    “We will have further discussions with Arabella before advising her of the options for further legal action.

    “The information we have received to date from Arabella is more than sufficient to seriously consider legal action against Mr Reynolds.

    “We (and she) are shocked at her treatment by the NSW Police.

    “We will be seeking a full and frank explanation from NSW Police regarding their reasons as to why they have reportedly dropped charges of assault.”

    Del Busso is under investigation after more than ten other men came forward to police claiming she duped them separately of thousands of dollars by faking cancer and the deaths of relatives, whose funerals she said she could not afford.

    Reynolds’ nightmare came to a head last October when he took himself to a meeting with the NRL Integrity Unit and police to disclose the nature of his relationship with Del Busso.

    It was after Reynolds held the private briefing in October last year that Del Busso filed a complaint against the NRL star. It led to him being charged in December with assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

    Del Busso is said to be lying low in Melbourne amid claims she also duped Reynolds out of thousands of dollars and tricked him into thinking she miscarried their unborn twins and lost two more pregnancies.

    He maintains he was the subject of a calculated plot by his ex who faked multiple pregnancies and even lied about suffering from cancer — claims she vehemently rejects.

    Reynolds’ defence also claims she digitally manipulated images to give the illusion she was pregnant.

    Model Del Busso, originally from Traralgon, Melbourne, has never been charged with any criminal offence.

    The Telegraph revealed she received $10,000 from former lover Michael Hayes by faking four funerals — including her mother’s — and feigning poverty for loans she never repaid.

    Mr Hayes, a 36-year-old father from Sanctuary Cove in Queensland, successfully sued Ms Del Busso for fraud and obtaining money by deception and was awarded $7866 via a Queensland tribunal in 2019.

    It is also alleged, ten years ago she feigned brain cancer and seizures to con then boyfriend Brendan Van Slageren and their friends out of almost $10,000 to pay for surgery on the incurable disease she claimed had given her just 18 months to live.

    Father-of-two Mr Van Slageren says he regrets falling for her when she was a trainee at AFL Sports Ready at Kurmai Precinct Campus.

    Del Busso has been contacted for comment.

    “Victim” says. He says.

  14. Lee

    Even if Cardinal Pell is acquitted by the HC, I fear for his safety living anywhere openly in Victoria, or maybe even anywhere in Australia afterwards.

    He only needs to be spotted and outed by one malicious person, then he may have to go into hiding or overseas.

    There is absolutely no denying that conservatives and controversial people have been doxxed before, both here and overseas.

  15. kaysee

    Seems I am late to my own party. Circumstances ……..
     
    All comments noted. Thanks.
    Based on some comments, I felt I would respond anyway.
     
    Some months ago, I was reading an article on a website. It contained a stray sentence that was complimentary to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, with reference to the Asia Bibi case. Though I was familiar with this case, I was intrigued by that statement. I meant to read up on the judges’ ruling but didn’t get round to it.
     
    Earlier this month, when the High Court announced the dates of the Pell hearing, I decided to do some research on the Asia Bibi case. I was surprised by what I read about the judges of the Pakistani Supreme Court and their fidelity to the rule of law and justice, above all else. I meant to comment on it in the Open Thread, but then came across so much of information, that I felt I needed to put it in an article, sharing what I had learned about this case and its connection to George Pell.
     
    The judges of the High Court will make their decisions as they see fit. But I hope that out there in the wider public arena, there are people who, though they may dislike Pell and want him to be found Guilty, are willing to set aside their prejudices when they come across information that makes them think. It is the ability to reason that puts human beings on a higher pedestal than all other creatures on this planet. I hope there are some who will be prepared to read the sources I’ve listed, to fully understand the Bibi case. And to understand the connections with the Pell case. That was my reason for writing this article.
     
    There are links between Bibi’s case and that of Pell. And if justice in both highest courts (Pakistan and Australia) is governed by the same rule of law, Pell should get the same verdict as Bibi.

  16. kaysee

    There are those who believe that Pell is guilty because:

    You haven’t seen the evidence. None of us have. Yet you happily make conclusions about it? The people who have seen it were largely not so sure he should be acquitted. Quite the opposite.

    and

    Given Pell has been convicted in one court, and had his appeal denied in another, I struggle to see any evidence of this ‘corruption in the system’ that led to the case coming to court? Usually baseless cases don’t make it through two sets of Court…

    It means you haven’t really read through all the available material on the Pell case (especially the verdict by Justice Weinberg). If you don’t know why Weinberg’s judgement is so important, you would need to understand his experience in the criminal justice system vs the two other justices.
     
    There is plenty of evidence. And you haven’t got the basic facts of the case. The abuse is supposed to have taken place straight after:
    Sunday Solemn High Mass.
    In a Cathedral.
    In a Big City.
     
    That is enough for anyone who is familiar with such a Mass, to say that this abuse is
    Not Possible.
     
    Read the sources that I have listed in the article. If you don’t have time to read them all, at least read Source No. 5. It provides the reasons why the highest court in Pakistan overturned the verdicts by the lower courts.
    Based on facts, evidence and the rule of law.

  17. stackja

    kaysee
    #3337981, posted on February 28, 2020 at 6:51 pm

    And if justice
    Australian High Court dismissed Lindy Chamberlain appeal.
    Only with new evidence was the conviction quashed.

  18. stackja

    kaysee
    #3337987, posted on February 28, 2020 at 7:04 pm
    That is enough for anyone who is familiar with such a Mass, to say that this abuse is
    Not Possible.

    Yes! Not Possible!

  19. kaysee

    stackja, when one takes a look at all the available facts, it is hard to believe that such a case could land up in court.
     
    The Bibi case has so many similarities to the Pell case.

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