It ain’t over for Assange yet

Julian Assange is expected to be cleared of three sexual assault claims next week after spending so long in hiding in Britain that the allegations have expired, it has emerged.

That could well be true.

But he still skipped bail in England, didn’t he? He’s still a fugitive from justice.

One of our resident legal eagles might be able to tell us what a likely punishment for that is, whatever the state of the Swedish allegations?

37 thoughts on “It ain’t over for Assange yet”

  1. Perhaps Sweden would like to concentrate more effort on their Muslim problem, rather than some bloke who upset a few feminists?

    I’m sure their citizens would welcome the chance to go to IKEA without the risk of murder.

  2. Whatever the rights and wrongs of his case, this is another reason I don’t like the idea of a statute of limitations.

  3. I’m not one of the lawyer but, until they get here:

    “an offence of absconding contrary to section 6(1) or 6(2) of the Bail Act”

    “Where it is not possible to dispose of the original offence, sentencing for a Bail Act offence should normally be undertaken separately and carried out as soon as appropriate in light of the circumstances of an individual case.”

    “If the matter is committed to the Crown Court for sentence, or dealt with there, the maximum sentence is 12 months custody and the sentence is subject to the usual appellate procedures.”

  4. Starting point is 14 days but …

    Additional aggravating factors

    1. Lengthy absence
    2. Serious attempts to evade justice
    3. Determined attempt seriously to undermine the course of justice

  5. A five year limit for accusations? How are people supposed to get justice for an inappropriate pat on the arse in 1971?

  6. I think the limitation period for the remaining charge is 10 years. So the Ecuadorian holiday could still be a long one.

  7. SE, one year, you’re quite right. That’ll translate to about three months’ actual custody, the rest on HDC then licence. And with a 12 month sentence so-called he’d automatically be deported.

    As to whether he’s been hiding in Ecuador, I have no idea, but it certainly sounds arguable.

  8. sensible countries stop the clock when the accused is informed of the charges.

    Hah, a wonderful excuse for more pendantry (although I agree with your point.)

    But isn’t the whole point of this that there are no charges as yet?

    That the Wizzard of Oz is wanted for questioning regarding some allegations? Which might lead to one or more charges. There has been plenty of speculation about what these charges might be – the current arrest warrant is for questioning re

    one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation, and one count of rape

    There were charges originally, but they were withdrawn on 21 Aug 2010 (jeebus, has this nonsense been going on this long?)

  9. bloke (not) in spain

    Very small bit of Equador, Mr Lud. They share the same building as the Colombians. I was there last week & I never noticed him. If I’d remembered I could have rung Assange & asked him if he wanted a paper or a take-away or something. Just being sociable, like.

  10. Was a warrant issued for skipping bail…if so and it hasn’t been withdrawn I’d think it still is valid until he was caught….if he managed to escape from custody then a new point would have arisen to date a limitation….I’ve read 7 years but this may be Merkins….

  11. @SE,

    If they can’t charge the guy without first gaining his testimony then what chance of a conviction do they have?

    This entire story is full of so much BS. “Wanted for questioning”, as if a criminal suspect will do anything but sit there in silence, sex allegations of low plausibility, the ludicrous fear that somehow Sweden is more likely to extradite to the US than the UK, with its one-directional extradition treaty, Sweden’s refusal to send a detective to the UK, or set up a videoconference, A’s belief that he is above the law in at least two countries, and the fact that A. is such a narcissist he might well open his mouth and thereby put himself in prison.

  12. BiG: the Swedish legal system works differently to the UK’s: in Sweden charges come much later in the process. Assange is not just wanted for questioning – they questioned him in the initial investigation. He’s wanted for a second stage of questioning, with the expectation that charges will follow. Legal background here.

    Regarding the allegations expiring: the most serious allegation, of rape inasmuch as he is alleged to have had sex with a sleeping woman, has another five years to run.

  13. BiG>

    Assange has already opened his mouth. He admitted the facts are as alleged. That’s what got the case reopened in Sweden, it’s why he fled from justice in Sweden, and it’s why he is now on the lam in the Ecuadorian embassy. His defence is not that he didn’t do it, it’s just based on a point of law whereby he claims to have found a legal loophole allowing him to rape. You can see how likely that is to work out for him from his current location.

    As SJW says, Assange certainly isn’t wanted for questioning in the same sense that would have here. It’s akin to saying that Assange is wanted for fingerprinting because he can’t be formally charged until after he’s processed, and processing him involves taking fingerprints. The English courts were asked to rule on this issue and overwhelmingly ruled against Assange’s claim that he was just wanted for questioning. If Sweden could get their hands on him they’d complete the formalities and put him on trial. He’d plead guilty, go to jail for ten or twenty years, and we’d be done with.

  14. So let me get this straight. He can’t be charged until he’s been sat down in a room in a Swedish cop shop and asked a bunch of questions he will refuse to answer?

    And the SoL means those charges cannot be laid at all if the alleged perp can string things out long enough such that this pointless ritual never happens?

    What a weird way of doing things.

  15. “He can’t be charged until he’s been sat down in a room in a Swedish cop shop and asked a bunch of questions he will refuse to answer?”

    Better to say that charging him involves the formality of ‘questioning’ him again than that he can’t be charged until after – part of the process, not a prior step. The idea that he’s wanted just for an interview with the police is simply an Assangeist lie.

    “And the SoL means those charges cannot be laid at all if the alleged perp can string things out long enough”

    I still have my doubts about that. It’s not normally the way a SoL works: if you go on the lam, the clock stops. It’s possible Sweden has some kind of arse-backwards law in this regard, and that they’re waiting for these charges to expire so Assange comes out of hiding and they can hit him with another dozen, more serious, charges.

  16. If Sweden could get their hands on him they’d complete the formalities and put him on trial. He’d plead guilty, go to jail for ten or twenty years, and we’d be done with.

    the most serious allegation, of rape inasmuch as he is alleged to have had sex with a sleeping woman, has another five years to run.

    20 years! For having sex with a woman he’d already had sex with & who (presumably) woke up!
    No wonder the Swedes have to import knife-killing nutters to keep their population up.

  17. JeremyT>

    It’s rape, plain and simple. Assange admitted holding his victim down with force while she begged him to stop, in at least one case. But even if he hadn’t, having sex with a partner who doesn’t consent is always rape.

  18. Er, Dave, unless and until he pleads guilty his guilt is for the Swedish equivalent of due process to decide. You don’t get to decide it, I don’t get to decide it.

  19. Assange thinks that he can do what he likes and then squeals and runs away when somebody complains.
    Sixty years ago there was a nursery rhyme “Georgie, Porgy Pudding and pie, kissed the girls and made them cry, when the boys came out to play Georgie Porgy ran away” but at leadst Georgie didn’t rape them.
    Given the need for proof beyond reasonable doubt, absconding from bail implies almost certain guilt and the UK justice system has penalties.
    I am not an expert on Sweden and it is just possible that Sweden judges people guilty until proved innocence but I fail to see why we shopuld have an extradition treaty if that was the case .
    If JA is not a narcissistic utter scumbag hiding from justice, can someone explain to me why he is not?

  20. Surreptitious Evil

    Well, JA is clearly a “narcissistic utter scumbag hiding from justice”.

    I’m just not sure he’s guilty of rape. That’s why we, and Sweden, have criminal justice systems. To make determinations of fact about complex allegations like “Julian Asssange raped me*”.

    * He didn’t. Me, anyway.

  21. This is interesting. Because in the US, leaving the jurisdiction usually puts the statute-of-limitation timer on hold.

    In any case, my (NALAALAASO) analysis says that he could still be dinged for jumping bail – which is likely a fine and potentially a short jail sentence – and that would be far preferable to facing a rape charge.

  22. BiG,

    According to the Beeb:

    Swedish prosecutors had initially insisted that Mr Assange be questioned in Sweden, but earlier this year – under pressure to advance the investigation – agreed that he could be interviewed in London.

    But the Swedish government has been unable to negotiate access with the Ecuadorian authorities, with both sides blaming the other for the impasse.

  23. @ SE
    OK, “I’m just not sure he’s guilty of rape” either – but his running away from a trial by jumping bail makes me highly suspicious.
    Being a rat and a narcissistic utter scumbag hiding from justice doesn’t make him a rapist but it is quite rare for innocent guys to jump bail.

  24. SE>

    “That’s why we, and Sweden, have criminal justice systems. To make determinations of fact”

    But there are no determinations of fact to make here. Assange has admitted that the facts are true. His defence is based on a point of law, claiming that what he did wasn’t technically rape. Now, legal matters notwithstanding, I’m quite happy calling Assange a rapist because he’s admitted to a string of rapes. I’d go on doing that even if he could manage to wriggle out of these charges. Just because someone finds a loophole in the law allowing them to rape without penalty doesn’t stop them being a rapist.

  25. Dave: have you got a reference for that? My understanding is that his lawyers argued, unsuccessfully, that even if the facts were as alleged, that would not constitute rape.

    The case seems to be awash with misinformation from both sides.

  26. SJW>

    Nope, that’s not wholly correct. To an extent that’s what they did argue, but they also said something very close to ‘but those aren’t actually the facts, these are’ and then repeated the same facts in ever-so-slightly different words. Assange concedes, for example, holding a woman down while she begged him to stop, covering her mouth so she couldn’t beg, and so-on. He just tried to make the same thing sound better.

  27. Dave: absent a reference, I don’t believe you. The argument presented by Assange’s lawyers was that the particulars of the charges in the European Arrest Warrant did not precisely match the statements of the complainants. The High Court found first that that was none of its business, and second that even if they did consider the statements, any differences would not affect the charges in a way which would invalidate the extradition request under the rules governing EAWs.

    Assange and his lawyers were not presenting his defence to the charges, but his defence to the case for extradition.

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