Rumsfeld, Gonzales Tried for War Crimes

Former US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld may soon be tried for war crimes if a German court decides to prosecute a complaint due to be filed on November 14, 2006.

The complaint is brought on behalf of 12 torture victims – 11 Iraqi citizens who were held at Abu Ghraib prison and one Guantánamo detainee – and is being filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights, the International Federation for Human Rights, the Republican Attorneys’ Association and others, all represented by Berlin Attorney Wolfgang Kaleck.

The complaint is being filed under the Code of Crimes against International Law, enacted by Germany in compliance with the Rome Statute creating the International Criminal Court in 2002, which Germany ratified. The CCIL provides for “universal jurisdiction” for war crimes, crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity.

The complaint alleges that 12 high-ranking military and civilian officials in the US – including Donald Rumsfeld, Former Chief White House Counsel (now US Attorney General) Alberto Gonzales and former CIA director George Tenet – have committed war crimes against detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and in the US-controlled Guantánamo Bay prison camp in Cuba. The complaint alleges that the defendants “ordered” war crimes, “aided or abetted” war crimes, or “failed, as civilian superiors or military commanders, to prevent their commission by subordinates, or to punish their subordinates.”

The Abu Graib plaintiffs claim that they were severely beaten, deprived of sleep and food, sexually abused, stripped naked and hooded, and exposed to extreme temperatures. The Saudi national detained at Guantánamo alleges that he suffered fifty days of severe sleep deprivation, 20-hour interrogations, forced nudity, sexual humiliation, religious humiliation, physical force, prolonged stress positions and prolonged sensory over-stimulation.

Although there have been some high-profile convictions in the US of soldiers involved in prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, the US has so far refused to consider the responsibility of those higher up the military chain of command.

No international courts or personal tribunals in Iraq were mandated to conduct investigations and prosecutions of responsible US officials. The United States has refused to join the International Criminal Court, thereby foreclosing the option of pursuing a prosecution in international courts. Iraq has no authority to prosecute. Furthermore, the US gave immunity to all its personnel in Iraq from Iraqi prosecution.

The Pentagon has so far declined to comment.

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