Ghosts of Sabra and Shatila Haunt Sharon in Brussels, Beirut and Cairo
Egyptian lawyers have followed in the footsteps of a Lebanese colleague and Arab activists in Belgium, announcing that they will file suit against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for war crimes.
Israel’s Army Radio reported Wednesday that the Egyptian Bar Association had decided to mount a "show trial" against Sharon, charging him in absentia with "war crimes against the Palestinian people."
It said the group took the step as a result of what it called the weakness of the international war crimes tribunal in the Hague.
The lawyers’ decision came only days after a Lebanese lawyer, Mei Al Hansa, approached to the Lebanese court with a suit accusing Sharon and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres of military crimes against Lebanon.
In the action, sent to Lebanese Prosecutor General Adnan Addum, Hansa called Sharon and Peres "butchers of the Lebanese people.”
Hansa,quoted by Novosti news agency, said that since 1948, when the state of Israel was created, these politicians had committed 73 crimes against Lebanon.
Sharon and Peres are accused of aggression in June 1982, when Israeli forces seized half of Lebanon, and of further aggression in September 1982, when the Israeli army stood by as Lebanese militiamen gunned down hundreds of innocents, including children, women and old people in the Palestinian refugee camps Sabra and Shatila.
The accusations also extend to the killing 105 civilians in an artillery pounding of the United Nations' canteen base in the settlement of Qana in southern Lebanon in 1996, according to the report.
According to Lebanese law, all of these crimes demand the death penalty.
In a conversation with journalists, the Lebanese prosecutor general was quoted as saying that the action had been registered by his office and that it would be taken into consideration.
Sharon ia also being sued in a Belgian court, where he is charged with responsibility for the 1982 massacres of 800 to 2,000 Palestinian civilians in Lebanese refugee camps, the daily Le Soir reported on June 1.
The suit was filed under a unique 1993 law that allows Belgian courts to try persons, regardless of their nationality, for genocide and other crimes against humanity committed abroad.
The newspaper said Belgian judicial authorities were studying whether the suit against Sharon was admissible under the terms of the law, which is currently being used to try four Rwandans in connection with the 1994 genocide in their central African country.
The plaintiffs in the suit against Sharon are a mix of Palestinians, Lebanese, Moroccans and Belgians grouped in an ad hoc committee.
They accuse Sharon of allowing Christian militias to slaughter the Palestinian refugees at Sabra and Shatila, two refugee camps located in an area of Lebanon controlled by the Israeli military after Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon when Sharon was defense minister.
An Israeli commission of enquiry in 1983 found Sharon indirectly responsible for the killings, a finding that forced him to resign his post.
The United Nations has officially classified the Sabra and Shatila killings as acts of genocide, Eric David, international law professor at the Free University of Brussels, told Le Soir.
Last January, when he was campaigning to become prime minister, Sharon expressed his regrets for the "terrible tragedy" of the 1982 massacres, but refused to apologize.
"What it was," he said in a press interview, "was an act of killing carried out by Arab Christians against Arab Muslims."
Arabs also blame Sharon for provoking the current Intifada, or Palestinian uprising, with his visit to east Jerusalem's Al Aqsa mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam, last September 28 – Albawaba.com
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