AJCongress Protests Belgian Decision to Try Israel's Amos Yaron
by Staff Writer
We had thought that the April decision of Belgium to amend its "universal competence" law settled the matter of Belgium trying Israelis for alleged "war crimes" in connection with the 1982 massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. Unfortunately, we were wrong.
Yesterday, BBC reported that a Belgian court has now ruled that a trial of former Israeli General Amos Yaron could continue. The entire point of the change in the law was to permit Belgium to refer accused foreigners to courts in their country of origin if these countries were democracies with an independent judiciary.
In the first application of the newly changed law, Belgium decided to allow U. S. courts to handle lawsuits filed in Belgium against former President George H. W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell for their roles in the 1991 Gulf War.
"In Belgium, justice is applied differently to accused from democratic countries depending on whether their countries have sufficient clout," said AJCongress general counsel Marc Stern. "One of the critical flaws in the original Belgian law was that it did not distinguish between democracies having their own fair political and legal mechanisms for dealing with alleged violations of international aw and other nations, which do not," Mr. Stern said.
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