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War Crime Case Against Castro May Stand

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  • Walter Lippmann
    (Note that the headline reflects Klayman s position, not that of the Belgian government which was bad enough in deciding to exempt Bush from its authority.)
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 2003
      (Note that the headline reflects
      Klayman's position, not that of
      the Belgian government which
      was bad enough in deciding to
      exempt Bush from its authority.)

      War Crime Case Against Castro May Stand
      By PAUL AMES
      The Associated Press

      BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - Changes to Belgium's war crime laws
      to prevent complaints against President Bush and other U.S.
      officials shouldn't derail a case against Fidel Castro, an
      American group that filed charges against the Cuban leader
      said Tuesday.

      Under pressure from the United States, the Belgian
      government has proposed altering the law that allows its
      courts to try crimes against humanity anywhere in the world.

      The government's proposal would change the law so that a
      charge could be filed only if the victim is a citizen or
      resident of Belgium or there is some other direct link to
      the country.

      Belgium's government proposed the changes after Washington
      reacted with anger to complaints filed against American
      officials including Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell
      and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld over the Iraq war.

      Judicial Watch, a Washington-based conservative legal group
      said the changes would not stop its case filed on behalf of
      exiled Cubans against Castro. The complaint accuses the
      leader of false imprisonment, torture and persecution.

      Because some of the plaintiffs live in Belgium, or have
      Belgian citizenship, the complaint can proceed, said Larry
      Klayman, chairman of Judicial Watch.

      Another proposed change that would grant immunity to leaders
      while in office also does not apply because Castro was not
      elected and is not likely to be prosecuted at home.

      ``Castro will never leave office ... as a consequence he
      should be subject to prosecution,'' said Klayman, who was in
      Brussels as part of a European tour to lobby governments to
      take a harder line against the Cuban leader.

      He was accompanied by Alina Fernandez, Castro's exiled
      daughter, and Blanca Rosa Gonzalez, whose son was recently
      jailed in a crackdown on critics of the government.

      Klayman expressed satisfaction that the European Union had
      criticized Castro following the sentencing of 75 dissidents
      to long prison terms and the firing-squad executions of
      three men who hijacked a ferry.

      ``I believe the European Union is sincere and they want to
      help us end the wave of repression,'' Klayman said. ``There
      has been a marked shift.''

      He hoped European nations, which have large investments and
      trade ties with Cuba, would use their influence on Castro.

      ``Europe has a lot of leverage that the United States does
      not have,'' he said.

      Castro is among several international figures facing charges
      under Belgium's war crime law introduced in 1993. Others
      include Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Palestinian
      leader Yasser Arafat, Iraq's fallen dictator Saddam Hussein
      and Iranian former President Hashemi Rafsanjani.

      The Belgian government used recent changes in the law to
      reject the Iraq-related complaints against Bush and other
      American officials.

      07/01/03 15:13 EDT
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