Belgian politicians say Peres should be put on trial

January 23, 2002

Only hours after the latest Fatah terrorist attack on innocent Israelis, Belgium is today hearing the trumped-up case against Ariel Sharon and Belgian politicians are demanding that Shimon Peres should also be tried for "war crimes."

-- Tom Gross


Belgian lawmakers want Peres on trial for '96 Grapes of Wrath
By Yossi Melman
January 23, 2002

A group of Belgian lawmakers who visited Lebanon this week are now demanding that the Belgian criminal appeals court, which is hearing a case against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for his role in the Sabra and Chatila massacres, put on trial Foreign Minister Shimon Peres for his role in the death of more than 100 Lebanese when Israeli artillery struck the village of Kfar Kana during the 1996 Grapes of Wrath operation ordered by Peres, who was then prime minister.

Irit Kahan, the head of the international department in the Justice Ministry, says this is another example of the systematic effort by Belgian politicans to influence the country's legal and judiciary system.

Three members of the Belgian parliament's Law Committee, including the chairman, visited Lebanon this week and toured both Sabra and Chatila and Kfar Kana, where they declared the Nobel Peace Prize laureate should be put on trial for war crimes.

According to Kahan, the declarations are a political attempt to influence the criminal appeals court, which convenes today to hear Israel and Sharon's position on the suit, which was brought to trial after the Belgian state prosecution reversed itself and said it had no objection to the trial. The plaintiffs in the case are survivors of the massacre.

Israel and Sharon's lawyers will argue on several fronts: that the court has no jurisdiction; that out of more than 30 suits brought against non-Belgian leaders, the only case the courts are handling is Sharon's; that Sharon, as a prime minister, has diplomatic immunity; and that Sharon has already been "judged" by the Kahan Commission, which ruled him ineligible to serve as defense minister and therefore, according to the Belgian law allowing the trial, he cannot be tried a second time.

No court decision is expected at the end of a hearing to be held Wednesday. It could take days or possibly weeks before a decision is forthcoming.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.