Report: Belgian Court Summons Sharon to Appear Over Lebanon Massacre
A Belgian court has summoned Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to appear November 28 concerning civil suits over his role in the 1982 massacre of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, the daily Le Soir said Monday.
The civil complaint was brought by 23 victims of the massacres or their families under a 1993 Belgian law which allows war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide to be tried in Belgian courts, regardless of where they took place or the nationality or residence of the victims or the accused.
An estimated 800 to 1,500 Palestinian refugees died in the massacres in the Sabra and Shatila camps by Christian militiamen after Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982, when Sharon was Israeli defense minister.
Sharon was forced to resign from the post after an Israeli investigation in 1983 found him indirectly but "personally" responsible for the deaths.
The summons to appear is theoretically to be served on Sharon by the Belgian ambassador to Israel, Wilfried Geens, Le Soir said, adding that it was delayed because of the weekend visit to the Middle East by a high-level European Union mission.
Belgium holds the EU rotating presidency until the end of the year.
The Belgian grand jury is to decide on November 28 whether the court here has jurisdiction in the case under the 1993 law.
That jurisdiction is being challenged by Sharon's Belgian lawyer, resulting in suspension of the investigation pending the current enquiry.
Two related lawsuits brought last June are pending against Sharon, alleging that he was guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the massacres at the Palestinian refugee camps.
Suspension of the investigation was in response to a motion by Michele Hirsch, a Belgian lawyer retained by the Israeli government to represent Sharon, a 73-year-old former general.
Hirsch contended in July that Belgian investigations of Sharon "violate the judicial sovereignty of the state of Israel," and that the investigating magistrate had no authority in the matter.
Patrick Collignon, the investigating magistrate appointed to prepare a possible case against Sharon, ruled in July that his office was competent to investigate the cases.
The first of the two suits, charging him with responsibility for the deaths, was lodged by an ad hoc group of Palestinian, Lebanese, Moroccan and Belgian nationals.
The second suit, alleging crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes, was filed by 23 survivors of the massacres as well as five eyewitnesses -- AFP
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