Michel Chossudovsky (by way of mediafilter) on Sat, 8 May 1999 23:22:18 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Lawyers charge NATO Leaders



A group of lawyers from several countries has laid a formal
complaint with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
against all of the individual leaders of the NATO countries and officials of
NATO itself. The group, lead by professors from Osgoode Hall Law School of
York University in Toronto --where Tribunal prosecutor Louise Arbour was
also a professor before becoming a judge -- have charged Bill Clinton,
Madeleine Albright, Javier Solana, Jamie Shea, Jean Chretien, Art Eggleton,
Lloyd Axworthy and 60 other heads of state and government,foreign ministers,
defence ministers and NATO officials, with war crimes committed in NATO's
six-week old bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.
The list of crimes includes "wilful killing, wilfully causing great
suffering or serious injury to body or health, extensive destruction of
property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and
wantonly, employment of poisonous weapons or other weapons to cause
unnecessary suffering, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or
devastation not justified by military necessity, attack, or bombardment, by
whatever means, of undefended towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings,
destruction or wilful damage done to institutions dedicated to religion,
charity and education, the arts and sciences, historic monuments and works
of art and science."
The complaint also alleges "open violation" of the United Nations
Charter, the NATO treaty itself, the Geneva Conventions and the Principles
of International Law Recognized by the Nuremberg Tribunal (the latter of
which makes "planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of
aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or
assurances" a crime).
Under the Statute "a person who planned, instigated, ordered,
committed or otherwise aided and abetted in the planning, preparation or
execution of a crime shall be individually responsible for the crime" and
"the official position of any accused person, whether as Head of State or
Government or as a responsible Government official, shall not relieve such
person of criminal responsibility or mitigate punishment."
The complaint points to the bombing of civilian targets and alleges
that NATO leaders "have admitted publicly to having agreed upon and ordered
these actions, being fully aware of their nature and effects" and that
"there is ample evidence in the public statements of NATO leaders that these
attacks on civilian targets are part of a deliberate attempt to terrorize
the population to turn it against its leadership."
The complaint cites a recent statement of the President of the
Tribunal, Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, urging that: "All States and
organisations in possession of information pertaining to the alleged
commission of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal should make
such information available without delay to the Prosecutor."
The complaint also cites a statement of United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson in which she says that "large
numbers of civilians have incontestably been killed, civilian installations
targeted on the grounds that they are or could be of military application
and NATO remains sole judge of what is or is not acceptable to bomb...In
this situation, the principle of proportionality must be adhered to by those
carrying out the bombing campaign. It surely must be right to ask those
carrying out the bombing campaign to weigh the consequences of their
campaign for civilians in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia."
Under the Statute, the Prosecutor is bound to "initiate
investigations ex-officio or on the basis of information obtained from any
source, particularly from Governments, United Nations organs,
intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations" and to "assess the
information received or obtained and decide whether there is sufficient
basis to proceed. Upon a determination that a case exists, the Prosecutor is
bound to "prepare an indictment containing a concise statement of the facts
and the crime or crimes with which the accused is charged under the Statute
and transmit it to a judge of the Trial Chamber."
The complaint asks Judge Arbour to "immediately investigate and
indict for serious crimes against international humanitarian law" the 67
named leaders and whoever else shall be determined by the Prosecutor's
investigations to have committed crimes in the NATO attack on Yugoslavia
commencing March 24, 1999."
Copies of the charges have been sent to the accused.
Participating in the action are 15 lawyers and law professors as
well as the American Association of Jurists, a pan American organization of
lawyers, judges, law professors and students, with membership in all
countries of the American Continent from Tierra del Fuego to Canada, an NGO
with consultative status before the Social and Economic Council of the
United Nations.
Professor Michael Mandel, spokesman for the group of complainants,
said in Toronto today: "The bombing of civilians is not only immoral, it is
criminal and punishable under the laws governing the Tribunal. You cannot
kill a woman and child in Belgrade on the theoretical possibility that it
might save a woman and child in Pristina. Even in a legal war you cannot
kill civilians and destroy an entire country as a military strategy. But
this is an illegal war and the NATO leaders are acting like outlaws. So far
they have risked nothing by sending others to do their killing and
destroying. We believe that if they are held individually responsible, as
the law requires, they won't feel so free to spill other peoples' blood."
For further information please contact:
Toronto: Professor Michael Mandel ( telephone 416-736-5039 e-mail
mmandel@yorku.ca or David Jacobs telephone 416-539---e-mail
- in Geneva: Alejandro Teitelbaum, e-mail Assemjur@aol.com


Michel Chossudovsky
Professor of Economics,  University  of Ottawa
Member of the Ad Hoc Committee to Stop Canada's
Participation  in the War in Yugoslavia

Voice 613-5625800, Ext. 1415
email chossudovsky@sprint.ca

On Kosovo:  http://www.transnational.org/features/crimefinansed.html
On the break-up of Yugoslavia: http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/62/022.html

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