Society is Entitled to But One Satisfaction: Ne bis in idem and jurisdiction questions in the Gabe Watson case
The case of Gabe Watson, termed by the media 'The Honeymoon Killer', is well-known in Australia and the US. Watson, an American, was accused of the murder of his wife on their honeymoon while they were scuba-diving on the Great Barrier Reef. He was subsequently convicted of manslaughter, served 18 months in an Australian prison, and was deported to the US. Upon arrival in the US, Watson was extradited from California to Alabama, where he is awaiting trial on charges of murder and kidnapping. This paper will examine two potential serious human rights violations that the impending trial of Watson presents: ne bis in idem, and extra-territorial jurisdiction. While Australia avoided violating international law by deporting rather than extraditing Watson, the first concern is that the US state of Alabama is seeking to try Watson for conduct he was already convicted of by an Australian court. The second issue is whether a state of the USA has the jurisdiction to try one of their nationals for conduct committed in the territory of Australia. An analysis of this specific case and its charges will be presented in the context of the Australian, US, and international application of extra-territorial jurisdiction and the ne bis in idem principle.
Crime, Justice and Social Democracy
Criminal Law and Procedure
Human Rights Law