HRW to Belgian couple: Sue Hezbollah, not Israel

July 27, 2006

In News

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A Belgian couple of Lebanese origin will file a complaint accusing Israeli leaders of war crimes over the bombing of Lebanon, the Belgian newspaper Le Soir reported on Thursday.

The complaint will be made under Belgium’s universal jurisdiction law which allows Belgian judges to prosecute human rights violations regardless of where they are committed.

Ali Abdul-Sater and his wife Farkad El Husseini were on holiday in Lebanon with their three children when Israel began bombarding targets in Lebanon after Hizbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and killed eight, the newspaper said.

The attacks destroyed the family’s Beirut apartment and forced them to flee the country via Syria.

The couple’s complaint names Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and military chief Lieutenant-General Dan Halutz.

The definition of war crimes in the complaint is based on the Belgian penal code and the Geneva Conventions of 1949, using language such as “intentional homicide,” “intentionally causing great suffering” and “unjustified destruction of property.”

More complaints are expected soon, the newspaper said.

The Belgian law of universal jurisdiction was successfully used last year when a Belgian jury found two Rwandan half-brothers guilty of helping Hutu militias slaughter some 50,000 people during their country’s 1994 genocide.