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Sharon panorama show
|Subject: Fwd: Israel furious with Belgian airing of BBC program /BBC|
>19:17 16/11/2001 Last update - 22:34 16/11/2001
>Israel furious with Belgian airing of BBC program
>By Ha'aretz Service
>Senior foreign ministry officials in Jerusalem are furious over a
>Belgian government decision to authorize the public television
>station in Brussels to broadcast the BBC's Panorama program that
>investigates then-defense minister Ariel Sharon's involvement in the
>1982 massacre of Palestinians at the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps
>The officials also expressed dissatisfaction at the decision by
>Belgian authoities to broadcast the BBC film on Friday, just two days
>before a visit to Israel by Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt,
>who currently serves as president of the European Union.
>Verhofstadt will meet with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser
>Arafat in Ramallah on Saturday and with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
>and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres on the following day.
>The officials also expressed resentment for what they termed
>Belgium's "double game" in the country's relations with Israel.
>According to the officials, the Belgian government sends calming
>messages to Israel in regard to the legal proceedings against Sharon,
>while at the same time it fans the flames among the public against
>Israel and the prime minister.
>Sharon's Belgian saga began last June. A 1993 Belgian law empowers
>local courts to judge persons suspected of war crimes, with no regard
>to their citizenship or where the alleged crimes were committed.
>Ha'aretz reported at the end of October that the case against Sharon
>in the Belgian courts contains nothing new about Sabra and Chatila.
>It quotes from the 1983 Kahan Commission report and other published
>sources, including Sharon's own autobiography.
>The Sharon file was given to investigating Judge Patrick Collignon,
>who had to decide if it had sufficient grounds for indictment.
>Michele Hirsch, a Jewish-Belgian attorney whom Israel retained for
>the case, submitted the defense to Collignon in Israel's name (not
>Sharon's), relaying a series of arguments denying the Belgian court's
>authority to preside over the case. Hirsch appealed to Sharon's
>presumed immunity as a serving prime minister, to Belgium's lack of
>connection to Sabra and Chatila, to the fact that Israel had
>already "judged" Sharon in the Kahan Commission, and to the
>implausible retroactive nature of the claim (the massacre in Lebanon
>was 11 years before Belgium enacted the 1993 war crimes law).
>Collignon and the prosecutors agreed to relay the relevant evidence
>and arguments to a higher court. The decision by Collignon and the
>prosecutors to refer the case to another court surprised the
>Palestinian plaintiffs, and the Belgian media reported it as a
>triumph for Israel. The apparent waffling over the Sharon case was
>taken as a sign that Belgium's legal system was having second
>thoughts about the sweep of the 1993 law.
>But Belgian prosecutors announced in early October that they rejected
>Israel's arguments about Belgium's authority to try the war crime
>case against Sharon, and it would resume.
>--- End forwarded message ---
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