United States v. Yousef Ramzi
Parties: United States (Plaintiff) v Yousef Ramzi (Defendant)
Facts: Between the years 1993-1994, Yousef entered Philippines’s capital under a disguised identity and stayed in Manila. During his stay here, he developed a plan that would bomb the said airliners (McCurry, 1993). He recruited some individuals to help him achieve his mission. They obtained bomb-making materials and assembled them with a general plan to detonate them aboard twelve United States aircrafts. According to their plan, some of them would board different planes, assemble the bomb then exit the plane in its first layover as it flies to various cities of America. Yousef and the friends performed several trials in Philippines as they geared up to accomplish their objective. In December 1994, they planted one of their bombs in a movie theatre in Manila that went off injuring many people. Within a short time also, they experimented on another bomb with one of the Philippines airline destined for Japan. It detonated killing a Japanese national and resulting to numerous casualties. However, their plot was discovered in early 1995 just two weeks before its execution. Yousef and co-conspirators were burning chemical substances in their apartment in Manila but accidentally their house caught fire. During the fire- fighting process, the police department discovered among other things chemical and bomb components and a laptop having a detailed plan of the aircrafts bombing (McCurry, 1993). They would also be involved in the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, but they were arrested as they tried to flee. Yousef was arrested in Pakistan, while Murad, one of the conspirators of the bombing was immediately arrested by the Philippines authorities. Shah was also arrested in a different location. After the arrest, they were charged in the United States. Yousef’s case was taken to the southern district court grand jury where he was charged with twenty counts. He pleaded guilty of all the charges and in 1998; he was sentenced for an imprisonment of 240 years.
Issue: Did the US government overstep their jurisdiction by starting a trisl against an individual who conducted a criminal activity outside the United States, though they attacked an American Airline?
Arguments: The defendant argued that it was against the law for him to be coerced to provide information. He also argued that he was denied a lawyer during questioning which violated the Sixth Amendment. He also mentioned that he had been warned during his arrest but this was dismissed as there was no basis to pass him as having offered information in coerced environment. Further, he argued that he had not committed any crime in the United States and that the US had no jurisdiction trying him.
On the other hand, the prosecution argued that Yousef offered the information without being coerced to do so. Secondly, the prosecuting argued that the defendant could have been tried in the United States without any contravention of any international law or guideline. With the existing international treaties and agreements regarding terrorism activities, Yousef and his colleagues could have been tried in the United States.
Holding: This trial and sentencing was in consonance with the international and domestic law. Due to the relationship between domestic and international law, as well as the treaty-based jurisdiction as outlined in The Hague and Montreal conventions, the court held that there was no contravention of international or domestic law in Yousef’s trial and conviction. Yousef was also accorded all the necessary human rights throughout the trial.