No escaping justice

Last week we learnt this:

“[Israeli] General (res.) Doron Almog, former head of the Israel Defence Forces’ Southern Command, escaped arrest Sunday by the London police’s anti-terrorist and war crimes unit, when he remained on an aircraft that had landed in Heathrow airport and returned with it to Israel several hours later.”

Amnesty responded:

“Amnesty International today deplored the failure of the United Kingdom (UK) authorities to arrest Israeli army General Doron Almog when he arrived at London’s Heathrow airport yesterday, describing this as a clear violation of the UK’s obligations under both national and international law. A warrant for the general’s arrest for alleged war crimes had been issued by an English court the previous day.

“The organization is now calling on the UK authorities to urge Interpol to circulate the arrest warrant and on other states party to the Geneva Conventions to cooperate with the UK in carrying out the arrest and handing over General Almog to the UK’s court.”

Switzerland based journalist Shraga Elam – a Gold Walkley winner – explains that individuals like Almog may find international travel increasingly challenging:

“Gen. Doron Almog will confront legal difficulties in Switzerland as well and not only in the UK. In September 2003 “the Swiss attorney Marcel Bosonnet, and Director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Raji Sourani, submitted two complaints to the Swiss Military Attorney General in Berne on behalf of Palestinian victims. One complaint is in respect of Palestinians whose homes were demolished by Israeli occupying forces; the second complaint is in respect of Palestinians who were subjected to torture and ill treatment in detention by the Israeli security services. The complaints call for investigation and prosecution of those responsible for these acts. In particular, the complaints call for investigations of former Israeli Minister of Defence, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer; former Chief of Staff of the Israeli military, Shaul Mofaz; former head of Israel’s General Security Services, Avi Dichter; and former head of the Israeli military Southern Command, Doron Almog.

“The Swiss Military Attorney General accepted the complaints. In December 2003 he replied that as long as the accused persons are not in Switzerland he is not able to do anything. Of course once these persons will come to Switzerland the whole situation will change”¦

“After the Palestinian complaints were submitted the Swiss parliament changed as a reaction in an unusual hurry the law and decided that only war criminals with a connection to Switzerland might be sentenced in this country.

“The lawyer Bosonnet considers this change itself as illegal and argues that besides it has no relevancy to the complaints he tendered, as the law correction was ratified after the complaints submission.

“Other law experts criticize as well the parliament’s decision and accordingly a new change is to be expected. Considering the special connections between Switzerland and the Geneva Convention it will be very difficult for the Swiss law makers to make an exception for Israel. Bearing in mind that the Israeli policy towards the Palestinian since the beginning of the second Intifada in September 2000 should be described as an escalating ethnic cleansing a total new legal approach, not only in Switzerland, should be considered. Taking this situation into account, complaints against an escalating “silent” genocide should be considered by legal experts.”

Western leaders are learning that victims are neither faceless nor legally mute.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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