[News] Bush Convicted of War Crimes in Absentia

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Sat May 12 17:52:36 EDT 2012

Bush Convicted of War Crimes in Absentia

by Yvonne Ridley

May 12, 2012


Kuala Lumpur ­ It’s official; George W Bush is a war criminal.

In what is the first ever conviction of its kind 
anywhere in the world, the former US President 
and seven key members of his administration were 
yesterday (Fri) found guilty of war crimes.

Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their 
legal advisers Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, 
William Haynes, Jay Bybee and John Yoo were tried in absentia in Malaysia.

The trial held in Kuala Lumpur heard harrowing 
witness accounts from victims of torture who 
suffered at the hands of US soldiers and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They included testimony from British man Moazzam 
Begg, an ex-Guantanamo detainee and Iraqi woman 
Jameelah Abbas Hameedi who was tortured in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

At the end of the week-long hearing, the 
five-panel tribunal unanimously delivered guilty 
verdicts against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their 
key legal advisors who were all convicted as war 
criminals for torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.

Full transcripts of the charges, witness 
statements and other relevant material will now 
be sent to the Chief Prosecutor of the 
International Criminal Court, as well as the 
United Nations and the Security Council.

The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission is also 
asking that the names of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, 
Gonzales, Yoo, Bybee, Addington and Haynes be 
entered and included in the Commission’s Register 
of War Criminals for public record.

The tribunal is the initiative of Malaysia’s 
retired Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who 
staunchly opposed the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

He sat through the entire hearing as it took 
personal statements and testimonies of three 
witnesses namely Abbas Abid, Moazzam Begg and 
Jameelah Hameedi. The tribunal also heard two 
other Statutory Declarations of Iraqi citizen Ali 
Shalal and Rahul Ahmed, another British citizen.

After the guilty verdict reached by five senior 
judges was delivered, Mahathir Mohamad said: 
“Powerful countries are getting away with murder.”

War crimes expert and lawyer Francis Boyle, 
professor of international law at the University 
of Illinois College of Law in America, was part of the prosecution team.

After the case he said: “This is the first 
conviction of these people anywhere in the world.”

While the hearing is regarded by some as being 
purely symbolic, human rights activist Boyle said 
he was hopeful that Bush and Co could soon find 
themselves facing similar trials elsewhere in the world.

“We tried three times to get Bush in Canada but 
were thwarted by the Canadian Government, then we 
scared Bush out of going to Switzerland. The 
Spanish attempt failed because of the government 
there and the same happened in Germany.”

Boyle then referenced the Nuremberg Charter which 
was used as the format for the tribunal when 
asked about the credibility of the initiative in 
Malaysia. He quoted: “Leaders, organizers, 
instigators and accomplices participating in the 
formulation or execution of a common plan or 
conspiracy to commit war crimes are responsible 
for all acts performed by any person in execution of such a plan.”

The US is subject to customary international law 
and to the Principles of the Nuremberg Charter 
said Boyle who also believes the week-long trial 
was “almost certainly” being monitored closely by 
both Pentagon and White House officials.

Professor Gurdial Singh Nijar, who headed the 
prosecution said: “The tribunal was very careful 
to adhere scrupulously to the regulations drawn 
up by the Nuremberg courts and the International Criminal Courts”.

He added that he was optimistic the tribunal 
would be followed up elsewhere in the world where 
“countries have a duty to try war criminals” and 
he cited the case of the former Chilean dictator 
Augustine Pinochet who was arrested in Britain to 
be extradited to Spain on charges of war crimes.

“Pinochet was only eight years out of his presidency when that happened.”

The Pinochet case was the first time that several 
European judges applied the principle of 
universal jurisdiction, declaring themselves 
competent to judge crimes committed by former 
heads of state, despite local amnesty laws.

Throughout the week the tribunal was packed with 
legal experts and law students as witnesses gave 
testimony and then cross examination by the 
defence led by lawyer Jason Kay Kit Leon.

  The court heard how
    * Abbas Abid, a 48-year-old engineer from 
Fallujah in Iraq had his fingernails removed by pliers.
    * Ali Shalal was attached with bare 
electrical wires and electrocuted and hung from a wall.
    * Moazzam Begg was beaten, hooded and put in solitary confinement.
    * Jameelah was stripped and humiliated, and 
was used as a human shield whilst being transported by helicopter.

The witnesses also detailed how they have residual injuries till today.

Moazzam Begg, now working as a director for the 
London-based human rights group Cageprisoners 
said he was delighted with the verdict, but 
added: “When people talk about Nuremberg you have 
to remember those tried were all prosecuted after the war.

“Right now Guantanamo is still open, people are 
still being held there and are still being tortured there.”

In response to questions about the difference 
between the Bush and Obama Administrations, he 
added: “If President Bush was the President of 
extra-judicial torture then US President Barak 
Obama is the President of extra judicial killing 
through drone strikes. Our work has only just begun.”

The prosecution case rested on proving how the 
decision-makers at the highest level President 
Bush, Vice-President Cheney, Secretary of Defence 
Rumsfeld, aided and abetted by the lawyers and 
the other commanders and CIA officials – all 
acted in concert. Torture was systematically 
applied and became an accepted norm.

According to the prosecution, the testimony of 
all the witnesses exposed a sustained 
perpetration of brutal, barbaric, cruel and 
dehumanising course of conduct against them.

These acts of crimes were applied cumulatively to 
inflict the worst possible pain and suffering, said lawyers.

The president of the tribunal Tan Sri Dato Lamin 
bin Haji Mohd Yunus Lamin, found that the 
prosecution had established beyond a “reasonable 
doubt that the accused persons, former President 
George Bush and his co-conspirators engaged in a 
web of instructions, memos, directives, legal 
advice and action that established a common plan 
and purpose, joint enterprise and/or conspiracy 
to commit the crimes of Torture and War Crimes, 
including and not limited to a common plan and 
purpose to commit the following crimes in 
relation to the “War on Terror” and the wars 
launched by the U.S. and others in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

President Lamin told a packed courtroom: “As a 
tribunal of conscience, the Tribunal is fully 
aware that its verdict is merely declaratory in 
nature. The tribunal has no power of enforcement, 
no power to impose any custodial sentence on any 
one or more of the 8 convicted persons. What we 
can do, under Article 31 of Chapter VI of Part 2 
of the Charter is to recommend to the Kuala 
Lumpur War Crimes Commission to submit this 
finding of conviction by the Tribunal, together 
with a record of these proceedings, to the Chief 
Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, 
as well as the United Nations and the Security Council.

“The Tribunal also recommends to the Kuala Lumpur 
War Crimes Commission that the names of all the 8 
convicted persons be entered and included in the 
Commission’s Register of War Criminals and be publicised accordingly.

“The Tribunal recommends to the War Crimes 
Commission to give the widest international 
publicity to this conviction and grant of 
reparations, as these are universal crimes for 
which there is a responsibility upon nations to 
institute prosecutions if any of these Accused 
persons may enter their jurisdictions”.

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