RHC – 2005-02-13 11:01:21
NEW YORK (February 12, 2005)– The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) has expressed dismay at the erroneous ruling by German courts, concluding that the United States is not unwilling to prosecute Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other high-ranking officials for the abuses at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq.
The civil rights group said that Germany’s contention — that it is up to the United States to pursue initial legal action against the alleged perpetrators of torture and their superiors — is false.
In a statement issued in New York, the CCR said the decision claimed that German prosecutors would intervene only if US authorities failed to act — noting that Washington’s failure to do so was one of the primary arguments of the complaint.
Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said that the German court’s ruling was “a purely political decision designed to evade justice and allow Rumsfeld to attend the Munich Security Conference. Ratner added that CCR will “absolutely contest this decision by launching an appeal,” pointing out that this is only a temporary setback. Rumsfeld and his gang should be worried, says Michael Ratner, “if not today, tomorrow. Just look at what happened to Pinochet.”
US Group Will Appeal
The Center for Constitutional Rights added hundreds of pages of new documents to the suit earlier this week and named newly-confirmed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in the complaint. CCR said the prosecutor could not have even read these materials, which shows how anxious they are to please the Bush Administration.
CCR Vice President Peter Weiss said: “The Prosecutor’s statement that dismissal was warranted because German individuals are not involved makes a mockery of the law under which the complaint was filed, which states specifically that it is intended to deal with war crimes committed anywhere by anyone. His statement that there is no reason to believe that Rumsfeld will not be prosecuted in the United States reaches a new height in the annals of incredibility.”
The original complaint was filed with the German Federal Prosecutor in Karlsruhe, Germany, on November 30, 2004, by the Center for Constitutional Rights and asked the Prosecutor to investigate the role of ten high-ranking US officials, including Donald Rumsfeld, in the abuse of detainees in Iraq.
Under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction, which is part of German law, suspected war criminals may be prosecuted irrespective of where they are located.
In addition, at least three of the defendants, LTG Ricardo Sánchez, MG Walter Wojdakowski and Colonel Thomas Pappas, are stationed in Germany, providing the Prosecutor with another basis to investigate.
The Center for Constitutional Rights said the impossibility of an independent and far-reaching domestic investigation of high-ranking US officials, coupled with the United States’ refusal to join the International Criminal Court, made the German court a court of last resort.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code for noncommercial, educational purposes.