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[casi] New elements against the transfer of the law suit against general Franks




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New elements against the transfer of the law suit against general Franks
to the United States



The law suit submitted in the name of 19 victims of war crimes committed by US armed forces in Iraq 
has generated the anger of the highest circles in the US. Threats are being uttered against the 
Belgian government. The latter intends to use its right to interfere in the legal procedures, in 
accordance with the amended law.



Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt has told the media that the next Council of Ministers plans to 
transfer the affair to US jurisdiction, thus following the advise of the Federal Prosecutor.



The opposition to such a transfer is growing.



A similar interference by the Executive power would be unprecedented in the judicial history of 
Belgium. Article 7  4 of the amended law, allowing such interference, has been severely criticized 
by the Belgian Council of State in its advise on the Act proposing the amendments to the law of 16 
June 1993. The UN Committee Against Torture has addressed an appeal to the Belgian government not 
to make use of the possibility to intervene in the judicial process.



Transferring the law suit to US jurisdiction would be simply illegal. The Belgian law of 16 June 
1993 as recently amended provides that a government may transfer an affair to the jurisdiction of a 
third country only insofar the legislation of the said country considers the war crimes referred to 
in the Belgian law in the same way -- which is not the case here.



The plaintiffs are opposed to such a decision because the transfer to the United States boils down 
to assuring impunity for the war crimes of which they have been the victims. With the war having 
been waged in violation of international law, no guarantee whatsoever can be offered that the 
United States would not continue on the same road in their handling of the post-war period.



The peace movement in the United States opposes the intention of John Ashcroft, US Attorney 
General, to have a 214 years old law abolished, which gives the right to foreigners who have become 
victims of serious abuses, to demand retribution before US tribunals. It is clear that in such a 
climate, the impartiality of the US jurisdiction is all but guaranteed.



A thousand Belgian and international personalities have already signed an appeal demanding from the 
Belgian government not to give in to US pressure and not to have the judicial process derailed.



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