War crime hearing against Bush, Blair begins

KUALA LUMPUR The four-day hearing by the Kuala Lumpur (KL) War Crimes Tribunal against former United States president George W. Bush and former British prime minister Tony Blair on a charge of war crimes began yesterday.

Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal

Datuk Abdul Kadir Sulaiman (centre) heading the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal yesterday. The other judges are (from left) Tunku Sofiah Jewa, Alfred L. Webre, Salleh Buang, Zakaria Yatim, Nilourfer Bhagwat and Shad Saleem Faruqi. – ROSDAN WAHID

It is alleged that the duo had committed crimes against peace when they launched a war against Iraq on March 19, 2003 without the sanction of the United Nations (UN).

However, before actual proceedings began, defence counsel team leader Jason Kay Kit Leon raised two preliminary objections.

The first objection was a supposed lack of jurisdiction by the tribunal to try the former leaders.

The other was on grounds of apparent bias by one of the judges, due to previous involvement in other international tribunals for war crimes.

Judge Nilourfer Bhagwat was requested to recluse herself from the tribunal as she had previously served as a judge with the Tokyo International Tribunal for War Crimes in Afghanistan as well as a prosecutor in a different tribunal against Bush. The defence counsel said Bhagwat would not be able to be fair at the KL war crime proceedings.

After a 20-minute adjournment to discuss the defence counsel’s objection of apparent bias, Bhagwat decided to recluse herself and left the chambers.

Retired Federal Court judge Datuk Abdul Kadir Sulaiman, heading the tribunal, along with five other judges, proceeded to hear the defence counsel’s first objection.

Defence counsel argued that the tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to try the former leaders as it did not have the mandate of the UN Security Council.

Kay cited several international criminal tribunal cases which had the authorisation of the UN, including the international criminal tribunal for Rwanda.

“The mandate for the UN is necessary when we wish to indict war criminals,” he said, adding that the tribunal would be usurping the UN’s power of authority by carrying out its own trial. “Verdicts which have no legal effect are purposeless in upholding justice or maintaining international peace.”

Chief prosecutor Professor Gurdial S. Nijar and his team countered this argument by saying that the tribunal was a trial of conscience.

“War crimes have universal jurisdiction in that anyone can bring war criminals to account for their actions.”

He also said the KL tribunal was complementary to the UN in trying to establish a body of law in relation to war crimes.

The tribunal overruled the second defence objection and proceeded with the trial.

The hearing will end on Nov 22.

Present was chairman of the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War and former prime minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

 

UPDATE:

Bush and Blair found guilty

Committed international crime by invading Iraq

War Crimes Tribunal

Chief judge Datuk Abdul Kadir Sulaiman (centre) presiding over the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal against former United States president George W. Bush and former British prime minister Tony Blair yesterday. Pic by Sharul Hafiz Zam

THE Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal (KLWCC) returned a guilty verdict against former United States president George W. Bush and former British prime minister Tony Blair on a charge of crimes against peace on its final day of hearing yesterday.

Chief judge Datuk Abdul Kadir Sulaiman, in announcing the verdict, said both the accused had acted with deceit, selectively manipulated international law and committed an unlawful act of aggression and an international crime by invading Iraq in 2003.

The tribunal found that both the accused had contemplated to invade Iraq as far back as September 2001 and had defied the United Nations Resolution 1441, which clearly did not authorise the use of military action to compel Iraq’s compliance.

Kadir added that the two accused had admitted since the Iraq war that they knew or believed the intelligence reports on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction to be unreliable and yet both proceeded to wage war against Iraq based on this false and contrite basis.

Memoirs of both the accused that had been tendered as evidence during the proceedings were also found to implicate both Bush and Blair, both having admitted their own intention to invade Iraq, regardless of international law.

It was suggested by the tribunal that the KLWCC file a report with the International Court of Crime against both the accused under the Nuremberg principles and include reports of genocide and crimes against humanity committed by Bush and Blair.

The tribunal also recommended that the names of both accused be entered into the Register of War Criminals and publicised.

The KLWCC was tasked to publicise the tribunal’s findings to all nations who were signatories of the Rome Statue, so that the two criminals can be prosecuted if they enter the jurisdiction of these nations.

The KLWCC should also suggest to the UN General Assembly to pass resolution to end Iraq’s occupation and request that the UN Security Council pass a resolution to transfer sovereignty back to the Iraqis.

Earlier, chief defence Jason Kay Kit Leon had argued that Bush had exhausted all means of diplomacy before launching an attack after receiving intelligence briefings on Iraq for two years, suggesting that then president Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and Iraq posed an imminent threat.

He quoted Bush as having said that  he would not lead his nation to war on a lie which would be easily discernable after the war.

Kay also mention that  Blair, in his memoir, had said he understood the need for the second UN resolution but knew the difficulty in getting one due to the politics within the UN Security Council permanent members.

The prosecution had made out a compelling case over the four days.

Chief prosecutor Professor Gurdial S. Nijar, in his summation, reiterated key documents of several intelligence reports that indicated there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq reported by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Neither was there an attempt by Saddam Hussein to obtain uranium from Niger by former United States diplomat Joseph Wilson and weapons inspector David Kay found that Saddam’s nuclear facility had deteriorated to such a point that it was totally useless, all discovered well before the UN Resolution 1441.

The tribunal reached a unanimous guilty verdict after four hours of deliberation.

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