October 1, 2009
In News The Israel-Palestine Conflict
London Justice Daphne Wickham rejects petition to have defense minister arrested for alleged war crimes, says he enjoys diplomatic immunity, cannot be prosecuted. Ruling said to coincide with UK Foreign Ministry recommendation
The London Court on Tuesday rejected a petition filed by a Palestinian attorney against Defense Minister Ehud Barak, demanding he be arrested for war crimes.
A Defense Ministry source said the petition was denied following a recommendation by the British Foreign Office.
Justice Daphne Wickham ruled rejected the claim altogether, saying that while the papers filed with the court seemed “serious,” under international law Barak has diplomatic immunity and therefore cannot be prosecuted.
The petition, filed by Attorney Michel Massiah on behalf of Palestinian families hurt during the Gaza war, claims that Barak was the defense minister in the previous government as well, which was responsible for the IDF operation last December.
According to Ynet sources, Barak–who was scheduled to meet Tuesday with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Foreign Secretary David Miliband–was warned of the possibility on Monday evening but failed to leave the UK before the petition was filed with the court.
Barak is currently in Brighton, where the Labor Party is holding its annual conference with Brown’s participation.
Most of the talks are being held with the British Foreign Ministry, which was asked by the court for its opinion on the matter. earlier, Jerusalem officials estimated that the British government will work to prevent further embarrassment for the defense minister.