1May the work you do in the public space in this case lead to prejudgement or predjudice on the part of the suspect, Farouk Abdulhak? Is it not true that Farouk Abdulhak are innocent until proven guilty?
Legally speaking, innocent until proven guilty is always the case. But no one is above the law. Taking shelter in another country is a conduct in conflict with your obligation to accept the laws and legal systems of a country in which you have resided. When a suspect wanted by the police has traveled from, and do not make himself available to the authorities in the country of residence where a crime has taken place, this is a violation of the assumptions underlying any residence in a country. Furthermore, it is contra dictionary to any ethical standards. Lack of extradition treaties between two countries does not change that.
2Why do you think that Abdulhak is guilty?
Scotland Yard has publicly and repeatedly confirmed that Farouk Abdulhak is the only suspect. They also stated that they have incriminating evidence. The suspect's movements after he was last seen with Martine provide clear indications of attempts to evade the legal consequences of crime.
All measures taken by his father, his lawyers and Yemeni authorities indicates the same. The father's lawyers contacted Martine's father in 2008 with the aim of creating 'private progress' in the matter in a way 'that would be of crucial importance to the two families'. This is for all practical purposes an 'admission of guilt'. Furthermore, if Farouk Abdulhak had nothing to do with the murder, why would he as a suspect not immediately want to clear his name by helping to shed light on the matter with the police?
3What do you think about Abdulhak standing trial in Yemen?
Yemen is currently unstable politically, economically and legally. This is unlikely to be regarded as a situation governed by the rule of law with the requirements of objectivity we have in the West. Significant corruption and cultural factors mean that one does not have sufficient guarantees that the case and the evidence that the British government may have to make available, is handled in a safe and fair manner. The crime took place in the UK, where both suspects and victims lived, and thus it is legally correct, and also the UK position, that any trial should take place in the jurisdiction of England and Wales. The UK legal system Englis is generally perceived to be the best in the world in terms fair and objective justice. Besides, Farouk Abdulhak did not hold a Yemeni passport on his arrival in Yemen in 2008.
4Martine is dead, and nothing can reverse that fact. Is it not best for everyone, especially her family, to rest the case to give the family peace?
No. The case addresses basic legal rights- and security needs for anyone walking the surface of this planet. It would be socially and legally irresponsible not to take the necessary steps to rectify the failures that the Martin case has brought to the surface in a globalized world.
When Norwegian authorities say they share these views, but do not take adequate measures, Norwegian credibility is at stake. Norway officially supports universal values as a basis for its commitment to 'ethical power' at various venues nationally and internationally. In assisting the UK and Martine’ parents in Norway, they should make concrete efforts to achieve a solution directly with Yemen authorities in the case. As the internationally renowned Judge Hanne Sophie Greve says; there are individual cases that most often pushes boundaries and create new standards in the international legal community.
Any civilized human being would get a reflex of unmet legal needs of this nature and will react accordingly. Rape and murder of a woman is the oldest and most serious crime known to man. All young people and parents can identify themselves with Martine and her family's challenges and aspirations to see justice prevail.
5Why do you put pressure on the Norwegian Foreign Ministry when the case is in the hands of the British government?
Norwegian Foreign Ministry (MFA) has officially stated that the Martine case is within their work-related core area, and that the MFA is responsible for all aspects of foreign matters of this nature. In addition, both Norwegian and English authorities publicly repeated the seriousness in which they look at this case. The previous Norwegian foreign minister, Mr. Jonas Gahr Støre, has personally stated that he finds it unacceptable that lack of extradition treaties protects suspects from being prosecuted and that justice must prevail. Besides, in an official white paper (Stortingsmelding 15 2008-2009), Norway commits itself to follow guidelines on Norwegian international involvements on principle issues on legal rights such as the Martine-case addresses.
These guidelines lay out how Norway shall actively seek and practice selfless dedication towards ethical and judicial questions of this nature. It is pointed out that Norway has a global ethical responsibility, as well as a particular relevance and expertise in international cooperation in this area.
It's political will, diplomatic activities and untraditional means in line with the guidelines in this paper we constantly have requested from the Foreign Ministry.
6Why do you not put pressure on the British government?
UK authorities has delivered beyond expectation in this case. After the extradition request (which was forwarded by UK authorities despite ‘protcol’ when there is no extradition treaty) was rejected by the Yemeni authorities, British government continued to address the case at high level with the Yemeni government, Martine’s father and representatives of the suspect’s family. They still continue to do so, and at the sixth anniversary of the case in March 2014, the UK police issued an unprecedented Facebook in Yemen with an appeal for justice in this case both in Arabic and English. With the high level dialog that Martine’s father still has with UK authorities, no pressure is needed on that level.
UK authorities have welcomed any assistance from Norway towards Yemen in this case. Based on the Parliamentarian White Paper, Stortingsmelding 15 2008-2009, it is very hard to see why not the Martine case should be one of the most important cases Norwegian authorities could engage in.
7What do you expect that the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign affaires (MFA) can do?
Firstly, the MFA must act in accordance with the parliamentarian White Paper (Stortingsmelding 15 2008-2009) and expose a real will to actively progress matters and achieve solutions in line with it’s guidlines.
Secondly, the MFA should establish an internal working group to work out new approaches and strategies to progress matters. This may be made on the basis of the expert opinions that have come from the internationally renowned Judge Hanne Sophie Greve, Professor Kari Vogt and other prominent capacities on international and multicultural relations that took part in a think tank session on the Martine-case arranged in 2009 by Martine’s father. The Parliamentarian Committee on Foreign Affairs and MFA have received a copies of the minutes from the think tank session on October 8, 2009 with a view to establish a better platform for discussing possible solutions and scenarios in the Martin case.
One of the issues included in the minutes was a new logic in the wake of the increasing instability in Yemen; unlike what Western governments previously assumed, the Yemeni opposition used the Martine case to illustrate that the current regime at the time should not position Yemen as haven for 'killers and criminals' - contrary to Islam which promote justice, human dignity, tolerance and progress. The MFA was asked to look into the possibilities of such a logic with a view to a dialogue with Yemen. Both British and American authorities have stated the need for justice in the Martine case as they consider the case isolated from other major political constraints.
Changing international visa regulations can be another area on which Norwegian authorities can work internationally. Concrete proposals on such provisions were reported to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament with reference to the fact that it had to be addressed. The Foreign Committee asked the Foreign Ministry to work on these issues. See also public response letter from Utenerikskomiteen this matter.
It has also for a long time both from Martine's family and from the Martine support group's web-page been requested that the important principal aspects of the case, with reference to the Parliamentarian White Paper 15 (2008-2009), should be handled separately. Mr. Støre said, however, after a meeting with the Yemeni government in January 2010, that the Foreign Ministry finally recognize the importance of the case, and therefore will bring the matter up to the ministerial level.
The support group also requires that the Foreign Ministry should adopt more informal diplomatic measures with reference to the Refsdal case in Afghanistan. Following this case the Foreign Minister emphasized the importance for Norwegian authorities to be able to communicate with people with local influence and knowledge of local culture to bring about solutions. This is particularly true in the Martin case.
Norwegian authorities were therefore expected to take independent initiative as the principal aspects of the Martine case in all relevant international arenas. A separate Norwegian extradition request should possibly be considered as a tool and platform to achieve such a dialogue. Failure to do any of this will send negative signals that they were content with the conditions as they are.
From different communities and local environments in Yemen journalists claim that a clear and specific action from an 'ethical power' like Norway would have contributed towards a much better status of the case than became the situation the following years.
8What do you think Norwegian authorities have done so far in the Martine case?
Norwegian authorities claim to have met with Yemeni authorities in June 2009 which according to the national Norwegian newspaper VG is in conflict with claims by his Yemeni counterpart. As stated in the specific article, the meeting was initially denied by the Norwegian minister, but then confirmed.
Norwegian and British Foreign Ministries very early made public assurances of the seriousness and authority by which actions in this case would be taken. The fact that the case was raised to the highest level s was seen as both appropriate and productive. After the media on several occasions addressed the matter with the Norwegian Foreign Ministry statements given have left impression of commitment and a willingness to act concretively. No visible signs of concrete measures in this regard have been seen. It was not until the torchlight procession on 1 December 2009 that the MFA seemed to get more strongly involved in the case. No further actions have been seen in the following years beyond general rhetoric on the MFA’s commitment to assist the UK. A coordinator on the Martine-case was allocated by the MFA in 2013. He later made a short visit to Sanaa, Yemen, to discuss the Martine case. This was done as part of a trip to Somalia, but no contacts were established or meetings held at any high level, and the visit produced no results.
9What has the British government done?
British authorities put almost 100 investigators on the case, took several diplomatic initiatives through its ambassador in Yemen, made a number of inquiries to the Yemeni authorities and the suspect's father, as well as sent extradition request to the Yemeni authorities. In 2014, Scotland Yard created a separate Facebook page in Arabic in Yemen on 6 th anniversary of Martine case. This information was aimed at the suspect's new wife and her family after the marriage in February. The purpose was to inform them about the status of Farouk Abdulhak as an internationally wanted person suspected of rape and murder of Martine.
Because the case is regarded as special British authorities have on several occasions gone beyond what is considered 'common protocol', including the DCI Jessica Wadsworth’s presence in Martine's funeral, an official inquiry by Farouk Abdulhak as a suspected murder at Scotland Yard website, extradition request to the Yemeni authorities (which normally requires an extradition treaty) etc.
British government has for long welcomed any Norwegian initiative that could support an extradition of the suspect to the UK parallel with their own efforts in the matter. No such actions from Norwegian authorities have been seen till date, and Martine’s father has made comments in the media that this may be linked to another bilateral case between Yemen and Norway. Lack of Norwegian investigation in line with international regulations in a case of a Yemeni fisherman being found dead after shots were fired from a Norwegian oiltanker in international waters outside Yemen in 2012, may explain the lack comparable lack of efforts by Norwegian authorities in the Martine-case.
10Have Yemeni authorities done what they could in the Martine-case, if so what?
Probably not. The suspect father’s influence in the political power structure in Yemen seems to have hampered any concrete initiatives on the part of the Yemeni government. On the contrary, the suspect was enrolled with the Republican Army during when the former president Saleh was in power. President Hadi, who is now president in Yemen, and some of his political supporters were believed to have a more constructive view on a just solution to the case. So far this has not materialized in anything but the old arguments that Yemen cannot extradite the suspect because he is a Yemeni citizen.
The problem with this argument is that the suspect, Farouk Abdulhak, was not a Yemeni citizen prior to the killing of Martine Vik Magnussen in London. At the time when he fled the UK and arrived in Sanaa via Cairo in 2008, he only had an American, Syrian and Egyptian passport.
Thus it is a deliberate act of the former Yemeni government later giving this international wanted refuge a Yemeni citizenship that now formally allows for denial of the British extradition request (on grounds of the suspect’s Yemeni citizenship acquired later).
This position may be illustrated by the suspect's lawyer in a TV2 interview with hidden camera maintains that The Martine case is 'a sleeper issue' in Yemen.
The new government under President Hadi seems to want a just solution to the case by a return of the suspect to the UK. It seems, however, to still lack sufficient power base to be able to progress matters efficiently. A Yemeni parliamentarian visited Norway to discuss the Martine case in April 2014. He met with the presidency of the Norwegian Parliament, the Oslocenter for Peace and Human Rights and the Norwegian MFA. As long as Norwegian authorities are not more actively involved, sources claim that a solution to the case is still not in sight.
The media pressure is therefore increasing its focus on this case. UK police and UK authorities state that the case will never go away as support has also come from her Majesty the Queen.
In the public space the lack of a voluntary return by the suspect to the UK creates increased frustration and engagements to see justice prevail. This also goes for the Martine Foundation for justice and other Norwegian support groups that are continuing their work and activities to ensure that justice eventually will prevail. The new Facebook-site ‘Justice for Martine Vik Magnussen’ in Arabic has created substantial attention in Yemen. Both in Norway and Yemen some of the warmest and deepest support activities and statements to see justice prevail has have come from the Muslim world.
The fundamental values and principles that the Martine case addresses are truly universal.
11Why did you arrange a torchlight procession, and what did you want to achieve with it?
A torchlight procession was a good, fair and important celebration for all people who are interested in a better and safer international community. In a modern society like ours, we cannot accept that anyone can be beyond the law and get a criminal amnesty by just crossing a border. It is obvious that equality before the law and justice is universal and important as part of globalization, and that the government must work to avoid two legal regimes depending on nationality and whether an extradition treaty or not. Rape and murder of a woman is the oldest and most serious crime known. One cannot accept the breakdown of fundamental fairness and legal rights in this were, and that personal interest and the ability to avoid justice prevail.
The entire value chain in the Martine case - from the human need for justice, security, the rule of law, regulations, human dignity and international ethics - are covered by the Norwegian Parliamentarian White Paper (Stortingsmelding 15 2008-2009). The Norwegian MFA also confirms their formal responsible for the Martine case, and that the issues it addresses are among the ministry's work-related core area.
It is also the Foreign Minister on behalf of the MFA that has handled the Martine case both in the Parliament and in the media. Formal and other attempts to get the MFA to take concrete steps in the Martine-case until the torchlight procession had been unsuccessful.
The procession ending up at the MFA with appeals and specific requirements for the Foreign Minister to execute was a beautiful, dignified and strong labeling of the claims of the Norwegian population.
A torchlight procession was later also arranged in London from Regent’s College where Martine (and the suspect studied) to the building complex in Great Portland Street where Martine was raped and killed. Some 250.000 Facebook users have supported the Martine case altogether worldwide, and the extensive exposures that continue in the media means that this case will never go away before justice has prevailed.