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Belgian Court: Sharon Can Be Tried for Genocide
By IAN BLACK
While posting this news item, Amrat Singh commented thus on the Akhand Kirtani Jatha (A.K.J.) discussion forum on Yahoo! Groups, "Beware K.P.S. Gill . . . 19 years and still no justice . . . our time [for justice] will come [referring to India's widespread use of state terrorism to squash Sikh separatism in Punjab in the early 1990s]."
The Guardian, Brussels, Feb. 13, 2003
"Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, can be tried for genocide in Belgium once he has left office, the Belgian appeal court ruled last night. The judgment opens the way for survivors of a 1982 massacre of Palestinian refugees in Beirut to press their case against the Likud leader when his retirement loses him his immunity from prosecution. 'International custom prevents heads of government being pursued by a foreign state,' the court said. But to Israel's dismay it ruled that an action against former general Amos Yaron, commander of Israeli forces in the Beirut area at the time of the massacre, could proceed. The Israeli foreign minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, immediately recalled his ambassador in Brussels, Yehuda Keinar, for consultations, and will call in the Belgian ambassador today to deliver a protest, a senior Israeli source told Reuters."
" 'This decision is a scandal and it legitimises terror and hurts those who fight terrorism,' Mr. Netanyahu said in a statement. 'Belgium is not only hurting Israel but the entire free world and Israel will respond to it very severely.' Mr. Sharon, who was defence minister at the time, is blamed for the death of 800 Palestinians killed by the Lebanese Christian Phalangist militia, then allied to Israel. Relatives of some of the victims appealed against a lower court ruling last summer that Mr. Sharon could not be prosecuted under the Belgian law which gives its courts universal jurisdiction over crimes against humanity and genocide, because he was not in Belgium."
"Mr. Sharon ordered the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, aimed at putting down cross-border Palestinian guerrilla activity. The following year an Israeli commission of inquiry found him indirectly responsible for the killing in the Sabra and Chatila Palestinian refugee camps in the Beirut suburbs. He was forced to resign but was not prosecuted. 'This is a victory for international justice and for the victims,' Luc Walleyn, a lawyer acting for the 23 plaintiffs, said. Last month the Belgian senate amended the 1993 'universal jurisdiction' law to let prosecutors to investigate suspected war criminals even if they do not live in Belgium, removing the restriction which has so far prevented them investigating cases abroad."
"There have been attempts to bring similar cases against other world leaders, including the Cuban president, Fidel Castro, the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, and the former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani. The government hopes to make the amendment law before the end of Apr. The revised act will also give the courts jurisdiction in cases which cannot be brought before the newly created International Criminal Court, located in the Netherlands. The only people tried under the existing law are four Rwandans sentenced last year to between 12 and 20 years for their role in the 1994 genocide of the Tutsi ethnic minority and politically moderate members of the Hutu majority."