US Officials Face Iraq War Crimes Case in Germany

November 30th, 2004 - by admin – 2004-11-30 20:44:21

BERLIN (November 30, 2004) –- A US advocacy group will file war crimes charges in Germany on Tuesday, November 30, against US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other senior officials involved in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal.

“German law in this area is leading the world,” Peter Weiss, vice president of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a human rights group, was quoted as saying in Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper’s Tuesday edition.

Those to be named in the criminal complaint to be filed at Germany’s Federal Prosecutors Office by the group and four Iraqi victims include Rumsfeld, CCR said on its website.

Former Central Intelligence Agency chief George Tenet and former top US commander in Iraq Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez and eight other officials are also named in the case.
The Washington Post said Saturday, June 12, that Sanchez, gave free reign to US officers in charge of Abu Ghraib prison to adopt various torture and abuse tactics used at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo.

The American New Yorker magazine also disclosed on May 16 that the torture at Abu Ghraib was Okayed by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Historic Effort
The US advocacy group called it a historic effort to hold high-ranking US officials accountable for “brutal acts of torture including the widely publicized abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib, on Tuesday November 30.” The four Iraqis were “victims of gruesome crimes including severe beatings, sleep and food deprivation, hooding and sexual abuse.”

The group called in an online petition on supporters for filing the criminal complaint to write the German prosecutor in support of the investigation. “It is critical that he hear from as many people as possible so he feels worldwide pressure to pursue the case,” read the petition.
The group said that under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction suspected war criminals may be prosecuted irrespective of where they are located.

The US came under heavy fire after the Abu Ghraib scandal was first revealed by the American press and after major General Antonio Taguba said in a report that he found evidence of “sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuse” at the notorious prison.

Cases of abuse that were reported include a detainee who was shoved to the ground before a soldier stepped on his head; a man was forced to stand naked while a female interrogator made fun of his genitals, and a woman who was repeatedly kicked by a military police guard.

Guantanamo Petitions
CCR is moving towards another effort to organize attorneys to file habeas corpus petitions in the Washington federal court on behalf of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The first five were filed on July 2, 2004. CCR currently represents 53 individuals who have been held at Guantanamo for over two years.

Responding to the Supreme Court’s historic decision on the rule of law in Guantanamo Bay, CCR is spearheading the effort to get detainees their day in court; the legal community is stepping up to provide the detainees with the basic right to challenge their detention, the group said on its website.

Amnesty International condemned in May last year US breaches of international law in Guantanamo under the cloak of its so-called global war on terror.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch had called on the Bush administration to promptly investigate and address charges of torture of the Guantanamo detainees or risk criminal prosecution.

Also in January last year, Amnesty asked Washington to resolve the “legal limbo” of the detainees, slamming its continuing defiance of international law. The accusations shed a light on the US record of human rights.

The US and its allies were reported to have been running a wanton global network of detention camps allowing the U.S. to fly so-called terror suspects to other countries where they are tortured for information.

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Explaining the Code of Crimes against International Law
Deutsche Welle

(November 30, 2004) — Germany’s Code of Crimes Against International Law is a unique piece of legislation that allows Germany to prosecute crimes against international law anywhere in the world.

The law has been in effect since July 2002 and was implemented in response to the formation of the International Criminal Court, which became operative at the same time.

The law is meant to enable Germany to prosecute all crimes against humanity.

“Regardless of the law of the place of commission, the German criminal law is also applicable to … acts committed outside of Germany,” the law reads.

While the law could be interpreted as an obligation to act in cases of crimes against international law, a clause leaves it up to prosecutors to decide whether alleged crimes should be brought before a German court.

Prosecution can be dropped in cases where neither the victim nor the perpetrator of a crime are German citizens. If the accused is not in Germany nor can be expected to come to Germany, prosecution can also be dropped.

Germany’s Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries justified these limitations by saying that Germany should not act as a “global policeman” by prosecuting all crimes against international law regardless of where they have been committed.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for nocommercial, educational purposes.