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[casi] Franks War Crimes Complaint Sent to U.S.

Posted on Wed, May. 21, 2003
Franks War Crimes Complaint Sent to U.S.
Associated Press
BRUSSELS, Belgium - The lawyer who filed a war crimes complaint against the commander of U.S.-led 
forces in Iraq said Wednesday he will appeal a government decision to refer the case to the United 

The government late Tuesday, acting on the advice of Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, used a 
recently approved amendment to Belgium's universal jurisdiction law that allows a case to be sent 
to the country of the accused if it has a democratic and fair legal system.

Attorney Jan Fermon, who represents 19 civilians wounded or bereaved in the Iraq war, said the case 
could not be handled fairly by the U.S. legal system since Washington had already taken such a 
clear stance in defense of U.S. Gen. Tommy Franks.

"It is evidence that there is no guarantee of (legal) independence," said Fermon. The lawyer said 
he will take the case to the Council of State, Belgium's supreme court, to try and have the case 
heard in Belgium.

Verhofstadt earlier called the war crimes complaint filed against Franks an "abuse of the law" that 
allowed prosecution of war crimes around the world in Belgian courts until it was amended last 

The law was first used to target suspects in Rwanda's 1994 genocide who fled to Belgium. Four 
people were convicted and jailed in that case.

Since then, complaints have been brought against a string of world leaders including Fidel Castro, 
Yasser Arafat, Saddam Hussein and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, although none has gone to 

Following criticism from Israel and Washington, parliament last month amended the law.

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