Posted Saturday, November 2, 2002

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Gulf News Online Edition

November 1, 2002


New Israeli defence minister wanted in UK

By Mustapha Karkouti


THE legal case to investigate and potentially "arrest" the newly appointed Israeli Defence Minister, Shaul Mofaz, seems to be gathering momentum by the day.

This followed the naming of Mofaz, former Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army, as a potential defendant by the British Human Rights solicitor Imran Khan, representing specific individuals and families in the West Bank, who lodged complaints to the British Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) against the Israeli general requesting his arrest.

The complaints cover a broad range of violations amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity, including those under article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

In a significant move by the (DPP) of the UK's Crown Prosecution Service, the case has been referred to the highest investigative authority and anti-terrorist squad in Scotland Yard.

A spokeswoman at Scotland Yard yesterday confirmed the referral to Gulf News. It is not known whether Mofaz is still in the UK, but the spokeswoman said it is understood that he was "at the time when the complaints were lodged."

It seems that the General has managed to slip out of the UK before the DPP referred the case for investigation. But Scotland Yard says this will not stop the process (of investigation), though it may hinder it.

Gulf News learned yesterday that the anti-terrorist branch of Scotland Yard appointed a senior police officer to investigate the case. He is Detective Chief Super intendant, Richard Mellor.

Leading the big legal team is QC Michel Massih, a British Palestinian expert, who has been appointed Council by Imran Khan's solicitors firm to prosecute general Mofaz.

The team is optimistic that Mofaz will be prosecuted and eventually brought to justice. Sources close to the legal team told Gulf News that the English law "is obliged to prosecute him."

The reason for optimism according to the sources is the seriousness on the part of DPP "who would have thrown the case in the bin from the moment it was brought to his attention, if it wasn't substantial," the sources said.

A leading law expert told Gulf News: "the DPP had a choice to say there was no case to answer, but he didn't which in itself gives reasons for optimism."

It is not known how long the case would take but the expert said "the legal team is making new ground as such a thing has never happened before."

"Unlike Chile's former dictator case which was an extradition case following a warrant issued by a Spanish Judge for his arrest while he was in Britain, Mofaz's case is entirely new because it is the first time that England is being asked to try somebody who is not on its soil."

It appears the legal team has lodged complaints detailing the various breaches of the Geneva Convention, which they say Mofaz is guilty of.

The legal team is of the opinion that Britain is under obligation to try and prosecute general Mofaz for these breaches. Under English law, a prosecution cannot start without leave from the DPP.

The fact that the DPP referred the case to the Crimes Against Humanity Squad under the aegis of Anti-Terrorist Squad, "is quite serious in itself," the sources believed.

The complaints lodged with the DPP include individual wilful killings of civilians, state assassinations which also amount to wilful killings, destruction of homes and agricultural land and crops, and torture - all violations for which Mofaz may be held accountable, in particular during his time as Chief of Staff between 1998 and July 2002.

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