Wednesday, June 20, 2001
AP Wednesday, October 3, 2001
delays hearing on jurisdiction to investigate
Israeli leader for war crimes
By CONSTANT BRAND Associated Press
BRUSSELS, Belgium (October 3, 2001 01:23 p.m.
EDT) - A Belgian court on Wednesday
delayed a hearing into whether Belgium has
jurisdiction to investigate Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon for alleged war crimes
nearly 20 years ago.
The hearing was postponed until Nov. 28 to give
Sharon's new legal team time to study the case,
court officials said. Sharon's lawyers had
requested the delay.
Lawyers for 23 Palestinian survivors of a 1982
massacre in Lebanon lodged a complaint with a
Belgian judge in June demanding Sharon's indictment
on war crimes charges.
In the massacre, a Lebanese Christian militia
allied with the Israelis killed at least 800
Palestinians in the Sabra and Chatilla refugee
camps. Israeli inquiries into the massacre found
Sharon - who was defense minister at the time -
indirectly responsible, prompting his resignation
as defense minister.
A 1993 Belgian law that gives Belgian courts
jurisdiction over violations of the Geneva war
crimes convention allows claimants to pursue cases
against foreigners suspected of war crimes no
matter where they occurred.
Magistrate Patrick Collignon agreed to
open an investigation into Sharon in July after
ruling that two complaints filed against the
Israeli leader might warrant prosecution.
But Sharon's lawyers questioned the 1993 law's
legality, and Collignon asked an appeals court last
month to decide whether he had jurisdiction in the
If the appeals court rules that the case can
proceed, and Collignon decides to press charges,
Sharon could technically be arrested if he enters
In the first case to be tried under the Belgian
law, four Rwandans were sentenced this year to
prison terms ranging from 12 to 20 years for their
role in the 1994 genocide of the country's Tutsi
A Cuban-American group, Brothers to the Rescue,
said it plans to launch a case in Belgium on
Thursday against Cuban President Fidel
Castro for crimes against humanity.
The Miami-based Cuban exile group gained
international attention when Cuban fighter jets
shot down two civilian planes in 1996, killing four
of its members.
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