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Staying in UK. Ehud Barak
Photo: Hagai Aharon
David Miliband
Photo: AP
UK court denies petition against Barak
London Justice Daphne Wickham rejects petition to have defense minister arrested for alleged war crimes, says he enjoys diplomatic immunity, cannot be prosecuted. Ruling said to coincide with UK Foreign Ministry recommendation
The London Court on Tuesday rejected a petition filed by a Palestinian attorney against Defense Minister Ehud Barak, demanding he be arrested for war crimes.

 

A Defense Ministry source said the petition was denied following a recommendation by the British Foreign Office.

 

Justice Daphne Wickham ruled rejected the claim altogether, saying that while the papers filed with the court seemed "serious," under international law Barak has diplomatic immunity and therefore cannot be prosecuted.

 

The petition, filed by Attorney Michel Massiah on behalf of Palestinian families hurt during the Gaza war, claims that Barak was the defense minister in the previous government as well, which was responsible for the IDF operation last December.

 

According to Ynet sources, Barak–who was scheduled to meet Tuesday with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Foreign Secretary David Miliband–was warned of the possibility on Monday evening but failed to leave the UK before the petition was filed with the court.

 

Barak is currently in Brighton, where the Labor Party is holding its annual conference with Brown's participation.

 

Most of the talks are being held with the British Foreign Ministry, which was asked by the court for its opinion on the matter. earlier, Jerusalem officials estimated that the British government will work to prevent further embarrassment for the defense minister.

 

Israeli Ambassador to London Ron Prosor called the lawsuit part of the process of "demonizing and delegitimizing Israel," adding that the embassy was working closely with the British government to have the "vexatious" lawsuit quashed.

 

"We are making every effort to protect the heads of Israel's security establishment, who defend us with their bodies," said the ambassador.

 

In September 2005, former IDF Southern Command chief Maj.-Gen. Doron Almog was on his way to Britain when he received a phone call from the Israeli embassy in London, and was told that a Muslim organization initiated an arrest warrant against him for his "military activity against the Palestinian people."

 

After landing in London, Almog immediately returned to Israel.

 

In February 2008 the BBC reported that British police did not arrest Almog for fear of a confrontation with Israel security guards aboard the

 

Hagit Klaiman, in London, contributed to this report

 


First published: 29.09.09, 17:53
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