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[casi] Court case against General Franks in Brussels

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 Court case against General Franks in Brussels
No impunity for war crimes committed by U.S. troops in Iraq

Twenty victims of war crimes committed by U.S. troops during the recent war against Iraq are filing 
charges before the federal prosecutor of Belgium for violations of International Humanitarian Law.

The complaint is directed against soldiers-who are not identified at this stage-who have committed 
war crimes. It mentions General Tommy Franks in particular for ordering war crimes and for not 
preventing others from committing them or for providing protection to the perpetrators.

The plaintiffs have been seriously injured or have lost relatives as the result of:

     the use of cluster bombs
     attacks on the civilian population including journalists
     acts of aggression against health services and other Iraqi infrastructure
     looting protected by or under orders from the U.S. army.

The plaintiffs and their relatives likewise have reason to fear the devastating effects of depleted 
uranium munitions used by the U.S. army. Their effects have already been highlighted in the 
previous wars against Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan.

Millions of demonstrators throughout the world have voiced their opposition to the war on Iraq. 
Opinion polls showed that everywhere, between 70 and 80% of the population condemned this war of 

In defiance of the people's will, the Bush administration violated international law by attacking 
Iraq without the permission of the Security Council and refusing to respect the ban on the use of 
force included in the UN Charter. In the field, U.S. troops also committed many war crimes, as 
attested by many sources.

The plaintiffs demand an independent inquiry to identify those responsible for the war crimes of 
which they were victims. They are also asking for those guilty to be brought to justice.

The complaint was filed in Brussels on the basis of the Belgian law on "universal jurisdiction" as 
amended on May 7, 2003. The law, as amended, gives the Belgian government the option of filing a 
case before the International Criminal Court (ICC) or forwarding it to the country of origin of the 

The United States, however, has not ratified the Statutes of the ICC, thus rendering a transfer to 
this court impossible. As for referring the case to the courts of the country of origin, the law 
demands that the latter afford guarantees of impartiality. That is not the case with American 
lawcourts for the moment for a number of reasons:

  1.. As soon as the possibility of filing charges was announced, the spokesperson of the State 
Department demanded the intervention of the Belgian government to prevent the judiciary from 
investigating the case.
  2.. The attitude of the Bush administration clearly shows there is no guarantee that the United 
States executive would not exercise the same type of pressure on the courts of the country. It 
should be recalled that this same administration refuses the prisoners detained in Guantanamo any 
kind of legal status, has set up special secret courts to try people accused of " terrorism " and 
detains hundreds of foreigners for unlimited periods and without due process. It has this shown its 
intention to intervene in judicial procedure and its total lack of respect for the most basic 
rights of the defence.
  3.. Congressman Gary Ackerman of New York has introduced a bill to forbid all collaboration with 
any state trying to exercise universal jurisdiction, and in particular with Belgium.
The victims' testimonies have been documented by doctor Colette Moulaert and doctor Geert Van 
Moorter, who were on a humanitarian mission for the NGO Medical Aid for the Third World and stayed 
in Baghdad throughout the offensive. The Coordination STOP USA, which was active against the war in 
Belgium, will support the plaintiffs and will provide information on the case worldwide.

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