Israeli war crimes suspect evades British justice after UK court issues warrant


An Israeli war crimes suspect today turned tail to avoid arrest by British police officers under an arrest warrant issued by Bow Street Magistrates’ Court.

Major General (retired) Doron Almog today spent some time ‘airside’ at Heathrow airport before taking a return flight to Israel. He had learned that he was facing arrest by British police after a decision on 10th September 2005 by Chief London Magistrate[1] Timothy Workman to issue a warrant for his arrest on suspicion of committing a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention 1949 (which is a criminal offence in the UK under the Geneva Conventions Act 1957). The alleged offence was committed as part of Israel’s belligerent occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

This unprecedented arrest warrant against a senior Israeli soldier was issued after years of failed efforts to obtain justice through the Israeli judicial system. Because of the failure of the Israeli judiciary to combat impunity, PCHR, acting for victims in Gaza, built a file of evidence with the help of Hickman & Rose Solicitors to pursue a case against him (and others) in the UK in accordance with the legal principle of universal jurisdiction over war crimes.

The Court decision legally obliged the Anti-Terrorist and War Crimes Unit of the Metropolitan Police to arrest Doron Almog, which they tried to do. The arrest warrant was made subject to stringent bail conditions. The Palestinian victims are devastated that Doron Almog has evaded British justice. An arrest could have led to the prosecution of Doron Almog on the basis of the evidence presented to the court (and passed to the police last month).

The warrant issued on 10th September 2005 is in relation to the wanton destruction of 59 houses in Rafah refugee camp on 10th January 2002.

However, Hickman & Rose also presented the police and the court with PCHR evidence, on behalf of our mutual clients, of Doron Almog’s involvement in a number of other alleged grave breaches, including the following:

  • The killing of Noha Shukri al Makadma, who was nine months into her pregnancy at the time of her death on 3rd March 2003.
  • The killing of Mohammad Abed al Rahman al Madhoun on 30th December 2001.
  • The mass murder committed on 22nd July 2002, when a one ton bomb was dropped on Gaza City killing fifteen people and injuring over 150 others.

    The Court did not issue a warrant in relation to the other cases because Senior District Judge Workman considered that, in these cases, police interrogation may be necessary.[2] The Palestinian victims in these cases had hoped that the police would arrest and question Doron Almog in relation to these other matters under their general arrest powers whilst he remained on bail in the UK.

    The decision to apply to the court for an arrest warrant was taken against the background of a series of meetings with the War Crimes Unit of the Metropolitan Police. Last month Hickman & Rose, on behalf of PCHR and the clients in these cases, provided the police with a considerable volume of evidence in relation to this suspect.[3] The police were unable to take a decision about the arrest or prosecution of the suspect before his planned visit to Birmingham on Sunday, 11th September. Consequently, acting on behalf of the victims, Hickman & Rose and PCHR pursued the suspect through the judicial system, in the hope that he could be arrested before fleeing the UK.

    Doron Almog is a 54 year old Israeli national who was GOC Southern Commander of the Israeli military from 8th December 2000 to 7th July 2003. Under his command the Israeli military were responsible for a countless variety of extensive human rights violations inside the OPT.

    The pursuit of war criminals and the prosecution of those responsible for war crimes is a long term strategy designed to combat the culture of impunity which is endemic inside the Israeli military, judicial and political system. PCHR and Hickman & Rose remain hopeful that such cases will eventually be heard in an open and fair trial system which applies international standards as this has not been available through the Israeli judicial system. PCHR anticipates that this decision will open the door for the issue of further arrest warrants, and hopefully arrests and prosecutions of suspected war criminals in the UK and in other jurisdictions.

    More Information

  • The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights: Raji Sourani, Lawyer and Director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Tel. 00 972 (0)599 412919, Email: pchr@pchrgaza.org, Web: www.pchrgaza.org; Hickman & Rose solicitors: Daniel Machover, Tel. 00 44 (0)7773 341096 or Kate Maynard, Tel. 00 44 (0)7899 982977, Web: www.hickmanandrose.co.uk.

    Notes
    [1] Timothy Workman is also sometimes described as Senior District Judge

    [2] When a court issues an arrest warrant in relation to an alleged offence this prevents the police from questioning the suspect in relation to that matter.

    [3] Five lever arch files, one ring-binder and 4 DVDs.