Decision On Genocide Suit Against Israeli Prime Minister Postponed
On Wednesday, a Belgian court postponed a ruling on whether it has jurisdiction to try a suit charging Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with genocide over the 1982 massacres in the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
The court scheduled new arguments in the case for May 15, at which time it will set out a date for a jurisdictional decision, a court spokesman announced. The May 15 arguments are due to be held before the Brussels Appellate Court's grand jury.
The case was lodged by 23 Palestinians under a 1993 law that allows war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide to be tried in Belgium regardless of where the acts took place or the countries of residence of plaintiffs and defendants.
The suit against the Israeli Prime Minister was lodged last June by Palestinian survivors or family members of those killed in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut, when Sharon served as Israel's defense minister.
Sharon's lawyers contend Belgian courts lack competence in the case because the events did not occur in Belgium, according to AFP.
Up to 1,500 Palestinian refugees died in the Sabra and Shatila camps at the hands of Israeli-allied Lebanese Christian militiamen after Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982.
Sharon was forced to resign his portfolio after an Israeli inquiry found he was "indirectly responsible" for the massacres.
The suit against Sharon has been straining diplomatic ties between Belgium and Israel, and some Belgian parliament members want the 1993 law modified to grant immunity to sitting public officials, a move opposed by human rights groups. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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