French Saddam lawyer to file war crimes suit against UK

13th May 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 13 (AFP) - A lawsuit accusing Britain of war crimes in Iraq will be filed Thursday at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, veteran French lawyer Jacques Verges told AFP.

PARIS, May 13 (AFP) - A lawsuit accusing Britain of war crimes in Iraq will be filed Thursday at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, veteran French lawyer Jacques Verges told AFP.

Verges, who is one of several attorneys asked to act for former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, said he had drawn up the suit on behalf of "the families of prisoners of the coalition in which Britain participates."

"The reality of torture and systematic abuses of the dignity of Iraqi prisoners, sometimes followed by murders, both by US and British troops is no longer in question," the text of the complaint reads.

"There are strong presumptions that the facts that form the basis of our complaint were committed with the participation of nationals of the United Kingdom, which unlike the US ... is a party to the (court's) statute," the text goes on.

The United States does not recognise the jurisdiction of the ICC, which began work in July 2002 with the aim of "ensuring that the gravest international crimes do not go unpunished."

A controversial courtroom performer, Verges, 79, has acted in the past for Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie and the terrorist known as Carlos. In March he was taken on by Saddam Hussein's nephew Ali Barzan al-Takriti to represent his uncle at a future trial.

To back his suit at the ICC, Verges cites extracts from the recent report on mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by US Major General Antonio Taguba, and the findings of the International Committee of the Red Cross which compiled a dossier in February.

The allegations "meet the qualification of war crimes as laid out in articles 5 (c) and 8 of the (court's) statute," the suit reads, citing "intentional homicide, torture and inhuman treatment."

According to the text, the crimes "incur the individual responsibility of the military chiefs and other superiors in the hierarchy."

In addition to Verges, some 30 other lawyers have been contacted by Saddam's family with a view to assuring his defence.

©AFP

Subject: French news

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