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War crimes hearing at KL War Crimes Tribunal


New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR: The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal will hear the second charge of Crime of Torture and War Crimes against former United States President George W. Bush and his associates for six days starting Monday.

The associates are former US Vice President Richard Cheney; former Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; Counsel to President Bush, Alberto Gonzales; General Counsel to Vice-President, David Addington; General Counsel to Secretary of Defense William Haynes II; Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, and former Deputy Assistant Attorney-General John Choon Yoo, all of whom served in the Bush administration at the time.     
 
In a statement here today, Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War (KLFCW) said that the charge read as follows, "The Accused persons had committed the Crime of Torture and War Crimes, in that the Accused persons had willfully participated in the formulation of executive orders and directives to exclude the applicability of all international conventions and laws, namely the Convention against Torture 1984, Geneva Convention III 1949, Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Charter in relation to the war launched by the U.S. and others in Afghanistan (2001) and in Iraq (March
2003).     
 
Additionally, and/or on the basis and in furtherance thereof, the Accused persons authorised or connived in the commission of acts of torture and cruelty,
degrading and inhuman treatment against victims in violation of international law, treaties and conventions including the Convention against Torture 1984 and
the Geneva Conventions, including Geneva Convention III 1949."  
 
KLFCW said the charges were founded on the contravention of the Convention against Torture 1984 and Geneva Convention III 1949.   
 
"The Torture Convention defines ‘torture’ as ‘the intentional infliction of severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, by or with the consent or
acquiescence of a public official’.   
 
"The term ‘public official’ refers to ‘official torture’ and includes the head of a state. It excludes suffering attendant upon the imposition of lawful punishment," the statement went on.  
 
The statement added that in 2009 the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission having received complaints from torture victims from Guantanamo and Iraq,
proceeded to conduct a painstaking and in-depth investigation for close to two years.   
 
Among some of the findings were that President Bush sought and secured legal opinions to justify his actions in suspending the application of the Torture
Convention and Geneva Convention III, it said.   
 
Defence Secretary Rumsfeld sought and authorised aggressive interrogation techniques and implemented them first in Guantanamo and then in Afghanistan and Iraq, it added.   
 
The brutality inflicted was in clear violation of the international conventions and legal advice was willingly given by the relevant lawyers to serve an ulterior political objective by the Executive.   
 
"For these reasons the lawyers were willing participants and are equally culpable for the war crimes. The Commission recommended that the prosecution
file charges against the accused persons," said the statement.   
 
The victims who would be attending the Tribunal hearing to testify against the accused were never charged for any actual offences and legal representation
was denied to them. No due process of international law was complied with.  
 
KLFCW said the experiences of these detainees in Guantanamo; Abu Gharib in Baghdad and Bagram in Afghanistan were similar.   
 
The systematic methods employed in these illegal detention centres revealed a deeper complicity instead of the ‘acts of a few rogue soldiers’ as claimed by
the United States.  
 
The Tribunal judges, headed by retired Malaysian Federal Court judge Tan Sri Lamin Mohd Yunus, who previously served as an ad litem judge at the
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Republic of Yugoslavia, include other notable names such as Alfred Lambremont Webre, a Yale graduate who has authored several books on politics.  
 
The panel includes practicing lawyer and author of numerous publications on International Law, Tunku Sofiah Jewa, former Federal Counsel in the
Attorney-General Chambers Prof Salleh Buang and retired Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mohd Sa’ari Yusof.   
 
It said that the Tribunal would adjudicate and evaluate the evidence presented in the same manner as in any court of law.       
 
"The judges of the Tribunal must be satisfied that the charges are proven beyond reasonable doubt and deliver a reasoned judgment."   
 
"In the event the tribunal convicts any of the accused, the only sanction is that the name of the guilty person be entered in the Commission’s Register of
War Criminals and publicised worldwide. The tribunal is a tribunal of conscience and a peoples’ initiative," it said.   
 
The prosecution for the trial will be lead by Prof Gurdial Singh Nijar, prominent law professor and author of several law publications and Prof Francis
Boyle, leading American professor, practitioner and advocate of international law, and assisted by a team of lawyers.  
 
The trial will be a public hearing held in open court from May 7-12, at the KLFCW premises 88, Jalan Perdana, here. - Bernama 

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