by Yvonne Ridley
May 12, 2012
British journalist Yvonne
Ridley is the European President of the International Muslim Women’s
Union as well as being a patron of Cageprisoners. Read more articles
by Yvonne Ridley.
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 (Friday) found guilty of war crimes.
...and their legal advisers,
...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
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.
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,
The tribunal also heard two other Statutory
Declarations of Iraqi citizen Ali Shalal and Rahul Ahmed, another British
After the guilty verdict reached by five senior judges 1 was
Mahathir Mohamad said:
“Powerful countries are getting away with
1 - Members of the governance body
Mahathir Mohamad (Chairman)
Zacharia Yatim - retired
Malaysian Federal Court judge
Tunku Sofiah Jewa - lawyer and
author of numerous publications on International Law
Salleh Buang - former Federal
Counsel in the Attorney-General Chambers
Shad Saleem Faruqi - prominent
academic and professor of law
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
“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
“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
Augusto 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.”
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
The witnesses also detailed how they have
residual injuries till today.
Moazzam Begg, now working as a director for the London-based human rights
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
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
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
According to the prosecution, the testimony of all the witnesses exposed a
sustained perpetration of brutal, barbaric, cruel and dehumanizing 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
“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 publicized 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”.