French Prosecutor Dismisses Rumsfeld Torture Complaint

November 23rd, 2007 - by admin

The Associated Press – 2007-11-23 22:47:02 [IHT]

PARIS (November 23, 2007) — A Paris prosecutor has thrown out a complaint against former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for torture in Iraq and at the Guantanamo military base, a lawyer for one of the four groups that filed the case said Friday.

The organizations immediately asked Prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin to reconsider his decision that Rumsfeld is protected by immunity from prosecution.

The complaint was filed Oct. 25 during a visit by Rumsfeld to Paris. Attorney Patrick Baudoin, president of the International Federation of Human Rights, said the prosecutor threw out the complaint Nov. 16, on the grounds that Rumsfeld benefits from immunity — a position that the groups reject.

A letter from the prosecutor, seen by The Associated Press, said the former US defense secretary is covered “by extension” by the immunity accorded to heads of state or government and foreign ministers for acts during their time in office.

The French Foreign Ministry advised the prosecutor’s office in the matter, the letter said.

Rumsfeld spent only a day on French territory, leaving Oct. 26. However, that was enough time for the European and American human rights groups to take advantage of a French disposition by which people suspected of torture can be prosecuted in France if they are on French soil.

The complaint said that Rumsfeld, in his former position as US defense secretary, “authorized and ordered crimes of torture to be carried out … as well as other war crimes.”

The complaint was filed by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights and two Paris-based groups, the International Federation of Human Rights and the League of Human Rights.

In a statement, the International Federation for Human Rights cited cases that it claimed had set a precedent for a new interpretation of immunity, including Chile’s late dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet, pursued in Europe in 1990s and, more recently, former Chad President Hissene Habre, indicted by a Belgian court last year for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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