Belgian Legislator Files War Crimes Compliant Against U.S. General for Iraq Injuries

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Tuesday, July 1, 2003
Bruce Zagaris
On May 14, 2003, the media reported that a Belgian legislator filed a lawsuit on behalf of 19 mostly Iraqi plaintiffs, charging U.S. General Tommy R. Franks, the commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, with responsibility for civilian casualties. Lawyer Jan Fermon described the 19 plaintiffs as victims of U.S. cluster bombs and alleged U.S. attacks on ambulances and civilians. The action is brought under Belgium’s universal competency law. It authorizes jurisdiction to bring charges of international crimes even if the case does not concern Belgium territory or its nationals or residents. Earlier in 2003, the Belgian parliament, in response to an earlier legal action against President George H. Bush (Bush I), revised the law to prevent such charges. It is quite possible that the court may dismiss the suit. The compliant alleges that plaintiffs have been seriously injured or have lost relatives as a result of: the use of cluster bombs; attacks on the civilian population including journalists; acts of aggression against health services and other Iraqi infrastructure; and lotting protected by or under from the U.S. army. The complaint also alleges the plaintiffs suffer from the fear of the devastating effects of depleted uranium munitions used by the U.S. army, whose effects have already been highlighted in the prior was against Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. The Israeli Government has reacted to the case against Sharon by threatening to break diplomatic relations. The court is set to consider the Sharon case on May 27.