September 15, 2005

Another General, another flight from justice

Following the flight of General Doron Almog from justice in the UK many people will have been reminded of another general, General Pinochet of Chile, and his flight from the UK. Well now the Guardian has run an article on how Pinochet was in the pay of British Aerospace (BAe), the UK's biggest arms supplier.
Covert payments to Pinochet-linked groups are listed on documents compiled by the Chilean authorities and obtained by the Guardian. They record large payments from BAe as recently as last year.
There were some major differences between the Almog case and that of Pinochet. Pinochet's was an extradition hearing and it was held by the appeal court that he couldn't be extradited because he was an acting head of state when he committed his offences. Almog is wanted by the UK, not a third country. Also, he can't claim head of state or prime minister status. That latter is how General Sharon wriggled off the hook with the Belgian authorities who wanted to charge him with war crimes.

Where the Pinochet case does bear comparison with the cases of Israeli war criminals iS that, with this BAe case, we now find that only is Pinochet to go unpunished, he is being rewarded. Isn't this the case with western approaches to Israeli war criminals? We don't just let them off the hook, we applaud them in our media and reward them with preferential trade arrangements and America provides billions of dollars in aid, loans and loan guarantees. These payments and guarantees are often specifically for Israel to commit still more war crimes.

And it's going to get worse before it gets better. For two days now, Ariel Sharon has been enjoying red carpet treatment at the UN, the supposed guardian and guarantor of international law. The bringing of legal actions, even failed actions, against Israel's war criminals should bring hope to their victims, mostly Palestinians, and their supporters, so this féting at the UN shouldn't be too demoralising. But this hospitality, not to mention sycophancy, accorded to a war criminal could signify the beginning of the end for the UN.

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