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Israel fears its officials will be prosecuted for war crimes
Israel-Belgium, Politics, 9/27/2002

The judicial department at the Israeli foreign ministry has expressed its fears that the political and military leaderships in Israel will be exposed to a wave of judicial cases in the world because of the military operations carried out by the Israeli forces in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The department indicated that one Palestinian woman "used" the presence of the Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres in South Africa during the Earth Summit to file a judiciary case against him calling for preventing him from leaving South Africa, only after he pays a financial guarantee and be fined by paying one million dollars as a compensation for damages inflicted on her by the Israeli occupation forces during the Intifada.

On the other hand, Amnesty International announced its support for the request submitted by the lawyers of the victims of Sabra and Shatilla massacres for trying Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Belgian courts. The Belgian courts ruled recently that its law which was issued in 1993 and which authorizes the Belgian courts to try convicted persons of committing war crimes any place of the world, is not applicable on the Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon because he is not on the Belgian territories. Amnesty International said "As the world marks the 20th anniversary of the massacres in the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in Beirut in September 1982, and on the eve of a hearing on the case before the Belgian Court of Cassation, Amnesty International today reiterates that the Belgian criminal justice system has jurisdiction under international law to conduct a criminal investigation into the killings."

Amnesty International said "The hearing in Belgian Court of Cassation will take place on 26 September 2002. On 18 June 2001, 23 survivors of the 1982 killings in the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps filed a complaint alleging that Ariel Sharon, then Minister of Defence and now Prime Minister of Israel, Amos Yaron, then Brigadier General commanding Israeli forces, and other Israeli military officials and members of the Phalange (Lebanese Christian militia), are responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in connection with these killings. ..In July 2001, Belgian juge d'instruction (investigating magistrate), Patrick Collignon, opened a criminal investigation into the 1982 killings. After an intervention by a lawyer acting on behalf of Israel, the investigating magistrate suspended the investigation on 7 September 2001. Following a hearing on 15 May 2002 about whether a Belgian prosecutor may resume the suspended criminal investigation of the 1982 killings by the Phalange as well as allegations that the Phalange had carried out large-scale "disappearances" with the knowledge of or under the supervision of Israeli forces after the killings, the Indictment Chamber of the Court of Appeal effectively stopped the investigation of the case by Belgian prosecutors."

Amnesty International said that it "hopes that the Belgian Court of Cassation will review the previous ruling by a Belgian court which led to the suspension of the criminal investigation into the killings of at least 900 Palestinian civilians in Sabra and Chatila. The investigation had been ordered by a Belgian investigating magistrate...Should the Court of Cassation fail to allow such an investigation to resume, Amnesty International will be calling for a reform of the law. Belgian law should continue to allow courts to investigate persons suspected of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide regardless of where they are, and to seek their extradition to Belgium for trial based on universal jurisdiction.

Previous Stories:
  Yet another meaningless resolution from the United Nations that is not enforceable or honored by Israel   (9/25/2002)
  Palestinian official calls for coexistence between the Israelis, the Palestinians   (9/24/2002)
  Belgian court sets June 26 for Sharon ruling   (5/17/2002)
  Brussels region council suspends cooperation agreement with Israel   (4/1/2002)
  Belgian judiciary to decide over the compliant against Sharon on March 6   (1/25/2002)

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