SABRA AND SHATILA PLAINTIFFS WELCOME TODAY’S RULING BY THE BRUSSELS APPEALS COURT OPENING THE WAY FOR A FULL INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL OF AMOS YARON AND OTHERS
FOR: Immediate Release
CONTACT: Laurie King-Irani, North American Coordinator, International Campaign for Justice for the Victims of Sabra and Shatila, firstname.lastname@example.org
This morning’s ruling brought a clear, decisive victory in the legal battle waged for the last two years by the survivors and victims of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre.
The Brussels Court of Appeals decided that none of the numerous arguments developed by the State of Israel and by Mssrs. Sharon and Yaron can invalidate or oppose a criminal investigation, in Belgium, into the massacre that took place in Sabra and Shatila more than twenty years ago.
Vigorous attempts by our opponents to invoke state sovereignty, double jeopardy, and other legal obstacles have now reached a judicial dead-end. Although theoretically Mr. Yaron could decide to file a petition before the Supreme Court of Belgium appealing today’s ruling, it is unlikely he will do so, since he in fact abandoned the legal arena on May 27, just before this case was scheduled for a hearing before the Court of Appeals. Yaron’s judicial capitulation, confirmed today in court, stands in sharp contrast with the adamant position of Messrs. Sharon and Yaron, who claimed in September 2001 that their legal arguments would prevail.
Sharon and Yaron have now abandoned the judicial arena, retreating fully to the political and diplomatic arena, where they hope that the Belgian government will use the newly amended anti-atrocity (universal jurisdiction) law to send the case to Israel. The new law allows such a move only when the plaintiffs have fair access to justice in another country, a presumptuous allegation, in this case, as the victims and plaintiffs, being Palestinian refugees, do not exist legally vis-a-vis the Israeli legal system in the first place.
This new mechanism itself is quite rightly challenged, however, and will most likely be subjected to the scrutiny of the constitutional court, since it violates the fundamental principle of the separation of powers in Belgium, in addition to the basic human rights required by a fair procedure and trial.
In our case, this was seen clearly when the Public Prosecutor himself has asked for an investigation, the Attorney General insisted on the continuation of the investigation throughout the two years of sustained legal battle, and the Supreme Court decided that the law against massive crimes should now apply to the Israelis accused in this matter. Today, we have the unambiguous confirmation by the Court of Appeals, which, despite claims by Sharon and Yaron that the amended law’s new mechanisms should benefit them, that the investigation and full trial can now be developed.
Luc Walleyn, Michael Verhaeghe, Chibli Mallat
Brussels and Beirut
For more information, see http://indictsharon.net