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In Obamaland, ‘Rule of Law’ is for the Other Suckers: US (and French) Courts Have Ruled Head-of-State Immunity is Absolute


By dlindorff - Posted on 05 July 2013

By Dave Lindorff


It is clear that the entrapment and forced landing in Austria of the official airplane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales was the work of the US, which was obviously behind the decision by France and Portugal to deny air rights to the flight, and which also was obviously behind the Austrian government’s demand to be allowed to search the jet after it landed. After all, those countries have no interest themselves in capturing US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, who is only Obama’s and the NSA’s quarry. 


So it is worth examining at how the US views the legal status of heads of state under international law and custom.


In 2004, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (New York) ruled that Robert Mugabe, the corrupt and brutal leader of Zimbabwe, enjoyed “absolute immunity” while inside the US on a visit to New York. The decision stemmed from 2001, when a group of citizens of Zimbabwe sought to have Mugabe arrested in New York on charges of “extrajudicial killing, torture, terrorism, rape, beatings and other acts of violence and destruction.” A month earlier, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (Chicago), reached a similar conclusion in a case involving then Chinese President Jiang Zemin.


The US government had filed briefs in both those cases arguing that both Jiang and Mugabe (as well as Mugabe’s foreign minister, who was traveling with him), had absolute immunity as traveling heads of state. 


No surprise that, given that the head of state of the US at the time of the court proceedings and the Appellate Court hearing, George W. Bush, and his vice president Dick Cheney, were already themselves guilty of serious war crimes and crimes against humanity for their illegal invasion of Iraq, their authorization of kidnappings, extrajudicial killings and torture, and their financing of acts of terrorism.


Given that it was the French who first caved in to US pressure to block the flight home from Russia to Bolivia of President Morales, it is interesting to note too that a the French Supreme Court, in 2001, ruled in a case involving an effort to charge Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafy with the downing of a US civilian aircraft over Lockerbee, Scotland, that heads of state have absolute immunity from prosecution while in office, except for universally accepted crime of genocide...


For the rest of this article by DAVE LINDORFF in ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent three-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative newspaper, please go to: www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/1850

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