|Suspected War Criminal Lt. General Gantz Offered ‘Special Mission’ Immunity Before Visit to the UK|
|Tuesday, 02 July 2013 03:22|
Lt. General Benny Gatz, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), is due to visit
the United Kingdom this week; it will be the first visit of an IDF Chief of Staff to the United Kingdom since 1998. Lt. General Gantz is suspected of involvement in the commission of war crimes, particularly with respect to his role in the November 2012 attack on the Gaza Strip, codenamed Operation Pillar of Defense.
Prior to his visit, the UK Government awarded Lt. General Gantz’s trip the status of a Special Mission, thereby granting him immunity from the UK’s criminal justice system. It is noted that Mr. Gantz would not ordinarily be entitled to immunity, and that the UK is under a binding legal obligation to search for and prosecute those suspected of committing war crimes, including before their own national courts.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights and Hickman & Rose Solicitors, who represent the victims of Lt. General Gantz’s actions, condemn the decision to grant immunity to a suspected war criminal. This decision sends the dangerous message that political considerations will be placed ahead of the rule of law.
Credible evidence exists indicating Mr. Gantz’s involvement in the commission of war crimes: these allegations should be investigated and, if appropriate, Mr. Gantz should be prosecuted. He should not be pre-emptively granted immunity by the UK Government, circumventing normal criminal justice procedures.
It is noted that the decision to grant Mr. Gantz Special Mission immunity comes after a similar decision by the UK Government last week with respect to the anticipated visit of Major General Doron Almog (retired). Mr. Almog subsequently cancelled his visit for unknown reasons.
The granting of Special Mission immunity must be subject to public debate and increased legal scrutiny. There exists a clear risk – as demonstrated by the granting of immunity to Mr. Almog and Mr. Gantz – that Special Missions will be used to protect allies of the Government, undermining the basic principle of equal application of the law and the UK’s international legal obligation to seek out and prosecute suspected war criminals.
For further information please contact:
In the Gaza Strip:
* Raji Sourani, Director, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights: 00 (972) 599608811
In the United Kingdom:
* Kate Maynard, Partner, Hickman & Rose Solicitors: 00 (44) 7812974613
* Daniel Machover, Partner, Hickman & Rose Solicitors: 00 (44) 7773341096
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 July 2013 12:52|