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April 28, 2003

Iraqis target Gen. Franks for war crimes trial

First they came for Sharon and I did nothing. Then they came for Franks. But he may have a strong protector in Washington, DC. This a beautiful example of why the make-believe court will become a joke
Iraqi civilians are preparing a complaint to present in court in Belgium accusing allied commander Gen. Tommy Franks and other U.S. military officials of war crimes in Iraq, according to the attorney representing the plaintiffs.

The complaint will state that coalition forces are responsible for the indiscriminate killing of Iraqi civilians, the bombing of a marketplace in Baghdad, the shooting of an ambulance, and failure to prevent the mass looting of hospitals, said Jan Fermon, a Brussels-based lawyer. He is representing about 10 Iraqis who say they were victims of or eyewitnesses to atrocities committed during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Mr. Fermon said the complaint will ask an investigative magistrate to look into whether indictments should be issued against Gen. Franks. If an indictment is filed against the general and other U.S. officials, they could be convicted and sentenced by a Belgian court.

"Belgium could issue international arrest warrants, but I don't think we will get to that point," Mr. Fermon said.

If arrest warrants were issued, U.S. officials could be arrested on entering Belgium.

The Bush administration has reacted angrily to the complaint. A senior administration official warned that "there will be diplomatic consequences for Belgium" if the complaint is taken up by a court there and Belgian authorities issue indictments against Gen. Franks and other U.S. officials...

"This is obviously not a political case with the ICC, but it's typical of what we can expect in the future," the official said on the condition of anonymity.

Mr. Fermon said that because under international law President Bush and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell cannot be prosecuted for war crimes while they are in office, the complaint will target Gen. Franks and other U.S. military officials...

The filing of the complaint threatens to heighten tensions between Brussels and Washington, which have been strained since Belgium joined France and Germany to lead European opposition to the war in Iraq.

Earlier this month, Mr. Powell said Belgium's law threatened to hamper travel by U.S. officials to Brussels, where NATO headquarters are located[more]