This law and justice thing

Judge Assem el-Gohari, the official in Egypt\’s ministry of justice responsible for tracing stolen funds, insists that he has challenged the UK authorities over their inaction, but was told in response that British investigators need more information to proceed.

\”The British government is obliged by law to help us but it doesn\’t want to make any effort at all to recover the money. It just says: Give us evidence. Is that reasonable?

Err, yes?

What would anyone prefer? That a government proceed with legal actions on the basis of no evidence?

This is all about trying to recover money and property that might have been looted from Egypt by members of the Mubarak administration. And we do seem to be coming up against a fairly fundamental clash of worldviews here.

On the one side, well, they\’re obviously the baddies, take all their cash. Return it to Egypt the country. That some members of the admin were corrupt is undoubtedly true, that\’s enough to freeze and confiscate all and any of the assets of anyone who was connected to the admin. Don\’t worry about that \”private property\” thing, just take it all and put it in government coffers.

On the other side we\’ve this rather quaint notion that we English have. Of individual guilt that needs to be proven, not group guilt that can be simply assumed. Enough places over the centuries have gone down that route (Jews, monks, Templars, Hugenots, bourgeois, extend the list as you like) and none of those episodes shine out as beacons of this freedom and liberty thing.

Should stolen property be returned to those it was stolen from? Sure, of course it should. But we do need to prove that it was stolen by those we are accusing of being the thief. And just because we\’re talking about ragheads, dusky Johnny Foreigners, is no reason to change the rules that protect us from our government.

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