To help call attention to Rrustem Neza’s first full year of imprisonment at the Rolling Plains Prison at Haskell, the Texas Civil Rights Review asked attorney John Wheat Gibson to clarify some details of the original arrest:
Texas Civil Rights Review: John, what was the exact date of Rrustem’s arrest?
John Wheat Gibson: Arrested 18 January 2007 by Sheriff; transferred to BICE (US Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement) custody 13 February 2007, no charges filed.
TCRR: What was the method of arrest?
Gibson: Handcuffed at TACB (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission) office, I think.
TCRR: What was the date of his transfer to Haskell?
Gibson: 13 February, 2007.
TCRR: Could you clarify the legal pretext for the arrest?
Gibson: TABC accused Rrustem and Xhemal, who own a restaurant in Nacogdoches, of making a false claim to US citizenship, because they both signed an application for liquor license that a Jessica Ismaili prepared for them. Her affidavit is attached [PDF format: 338kb].
The District Attorney declined to prosecute after learning that they signed without knowing the contents. Rrustem speaks little and reads no English. The US Attorney says Rrustem was not charged, because he was transferred to BICE for deportation; but Xhemal was not charged, either. US Attorneys in this case seem willing to say anything.
TCRR: How does a beverage application get effectively translated into prison time?
Gibson: A false statement on the application can be prosecuted as a felony. A conviction could result in prison time. In the case of the Neza brothers, there was no prosecution and therefore no conviction or prison time. The DA realized they did not knowingly make any false statement. Rrustem is not in jail because of any criminal charges. He is like the kids at T. Don Hutto in Taylor, in jail purely for the purpose of deportation, totally unrelated to any fault or improper behavior.
Note: In the affidavit, Jessica Ismali of Lufkin, Texas describes how she prepared the beverage license for Xhemal and Rrustem Neza. She was the one who checked the citizanship box. “I never asked Xhemal or Rrustem about citizenship. I just assumed. . . . Neither Xhemal nor Rrustem even knew there was a question on the form about citizenship, much less that I had checked the box indicating that they were citizens” [Ismaili Affidavit, PDF format: 338kb]