Thursday, June 24, 2010
Lawsuits against Israeli leaders in Greece and Belgium
33 Greek citizens who took part in the Gaza-bound flotilla that was stopped by the IDF last month are planning to sue senior Israeli officials, including Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Navy chief Eliezer Merom, Army Radio reported on Wednesday.The Greek activists also plan to sue soldiers and police officers who participated in the IDF's interception of the Turkish-flagged ship the Mavi Marmara, which resulted in the deaths of nine activists.
According to flotilla participants, Israel violated Greek criminal law as well as international treaties when it stopped the ships by force outside of Israel's territorial waters.The lawyer for the plaintiffs announced the intended lawsuits at a news conference in Athens.
Two Belgian lawyers announced on Wednesday that, working on behalf of a group of Palestinians - including, significantly, one who is a Belgian national - they were intending to charge 14 Israeli politicians, including Ehud Olmert, Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni and Matan Vilnai, for crimes against humanity and war crimes. The lawyers, Georges-Henri Beauthier and Alexis Deswaef said they were acting on behalf of 13 Palestinian victims from Gaza, and an additional man - Anouar El Okka, a Belgian doctor of Palestinian origin.
Much of the 70-page complaint is based on the Goldstone report, Agence France-Presse reported. The claim includes an attack on a mosque near the Jabaliya refugee camp during which 16 civilians, including children, were killed. The plaintiffs were either wounded or lost a relative in the attack, the news site wrote.
Lawyers reported estimated that Belgium's attorney general will evaluate the case to determine whether it provides just cause to open a case against the senior Israeli officials "already by the end of August."
The claims follow the filing suit by French activists against Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak over the Israeli army's conduct during its raid of the Freedom Flotilla which saw nine passengers killed by Israeli commandos in international waters on 31 May. The move forced Barak to cancel a Paris visit.
An arrest warrant was issued against Livni in the UK in December 2009 after British lawyers filed suit against the official on behalf of Palestinian respondents for her role in Operation Cast Lead.