Two IS suspects will not have to worry about the capital sentence if convicted of the killings of Western hostages in Syria and Iraq, the United States has told the United Kingdom. El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey are the last 2 remaining members of an Islamic State terror cell recognized as “The Beatles” mainly due to their British accents. The cooperation between the two countries i.e. US and UK met a deadlock over the use of death sentence. However, the US taking a clearer stance and, in a bid, to not extend the legal spat has now announced that both terror suspects will not be handed the death penalty if found guilty of executions.
United States Attorney General William Barr in his letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel assured the US authorities would not seek the death sentence of the men and “if imposed, it will not be carried out.”
In the light of confirmations, he said he hoped the Kingdom would now share important evidence about the two of its citizens without wait.
“If we receive the requested evidence and attendant cooperation from the UK, we intend to proceed with a US prosecution,” he assured.
“Indeed, it is these unique circumstances that have led me to provide the assurance offered in this letter.”
A Home Office spokesman said the UK “continue to work closely with international partners to ensure that those who have committed crimes in the name of Daesh are brought to justice”.
The duo who are in the custody of US in Iraq hail from the Kingdom but have now been stripped from the right of country’s nationality. The pair were allegedly on the payroll of Islamic state kidnappers that were involved in the killings of a number of Western hostages, including American and British citizens including journalists and aid workers in Iraq and Syria in 2014. They capitated their victims, filmed their beheadings and later uploaded them online. UK believes the men cannot be legally extradited to the US however in 2018 it was reported that the latter was preparing to prosecute the ex-British nationals and was requesting the Kingdom for the sharing of information that would assist in their conviction.
Responding to the request the ministers said they would facilitate with intelligence sharing without opposing a death sentence. However, the cooperation faced a significant dent when the mother of El Shafee Elsheikh took the matter to the court and filed a petition arguing the government’s position was in breach of its internationally recognized resistance to the death penalty. Earlier the two men could be put on a death row if convicted.
In the past authorities in UK have sough assurances from the foreign governments that the capital sentence would not carry out in the cases where the Kingdom would share crucial intelligence or cooperate through extradition agreements. The Kingdom’s elite court in its ruling has called the United States request to be supplied with crucial evidence by UK as illegal. At the time, the UK taking its official position said it was “a long-standing position” of the country that discourages death sentences but added that in this case it was a “priority to make sure that these men face criminal prosecution”.
However, now the country has confirmed that if the pair were moved to the controversial US military prison Guantanamo Bay where suspects the government will not release the crucial information the American prosecution needs to charge them. According to a Frank Gardner, a BBC reporter, the US has warned that if the dispute was not settled by middle of October 2020, the terror suspects would be released to the Iraqi government. Several relative of the murdered hostages have spoken in the favor of a fair trial for the suspects and have voted against the capital punishment.