Published on February 7th, 2012

To the Editor:

On Friday, February 3rd, Judge Mordue resentenced Dr. Rafil Dhafir to 22 years in prison, in large part because he is unrepentant about sending food and medicine to starving Iraqi civilians in violation of International Economic Emergency Powers Act (IEEPA). According to UN estimates, between 1 and 1.5 million Iraqi civilians died as a direct result of the U.S. and U.K.-sponsored UN sanctions against Iraq. Dr. Dhafir made the correct moral choice and undertook the obligation imposed on all American citizens by Nuremberg Principle IV, to reduce the genocidal consequences of sanctions, by openly providing food and medicine to Iraqi children and adults via his Charity Help the Needy for 13 years.

Sixty-four people wrote to Judge Mordue asking for clemency.  These include Denis Halliday and Hans Von Sponeck, both of whom resigned from the UN after long distinguished careers, because they were unwilling to implement what they considered a genocidal policy of sanctions against Iraq; Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire; and many others across the world who appreciate Dr. Dhafir’s humanitarian outreach.

The Sentencing Guidelines range on which Dr. Dhafir’s 22-year sentence was based was erroneously increased as if he was a “third-party” (professional) money launderer. This sets a terrible legal precedent. Friday’s decision means that the case can now go back to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals where a 3-judge panel will reassess the defense’s strong legal arguments that show a 10-year sentence would be a much more appropriate one for the crimes committed.

For a comprehensive overview of how the government prosecuted this case and what it means for each of us:

Katherine Hughes

For the Dr. Dhafir Support Committee