Abu Ghraib Haunts Rumsfeld in Germany

An international grouping of lawyers on Tuesday, November 14, filed a lawsuit in Germany against outgoing US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other high-ranking American officials on the ground of sanctioning war crimes.

Abu Ghraib Haunts Rumsfeld in Germany

"The suit was filed at 5:30 am (0430 GMT) and the federal prosecutor's office acknowledged receipt of it," Hannes Honecker, Secretary General of the Germany-based Republican Attorneys' Association, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Other groups involved in the suit include the US-based Center for Constitutional Rights and the International Federation for Human Rights.

The suit is being brought on behalf of 11 former Iraqi detainees of the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad and one Guantanamo detainee.

The detainees are represented by Berlin lawyer Wolfgang Kaleck.

Former White House counsel and current Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency George Tenet, and other high-ranking US officials are also charged in the complaint.

It asks federal prosecutor Monika Harms in the western city of Karlsruhe to open an investigation and, ultimately, a criminal prosecution that will look into the responsibility of the American officials for authorizing war crimes in the context of the so-called war on terror.

The complaint charges that the defendants "ordered" war crimes, "aided or abetted" war crimes, or "failed, as civilian superiors or military commanders, to prevent their commission by subordinates, or to punish their subordinates," actions that are explicitly criminalized by German law.

Rumsfeld has seen his ratings in freefall over the past three years mainly due to his policies in Iraq.

In the wake of the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal, American press said interrogation tactics amounting to torture were okayed by senior Pentagon officials, including Rumsfeld himself.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged US President George W. Bush to name a special prosecutor to investigate the culpability of Rumsfeld in the torture of Iraqi prisoners.

Substantial Evidence

American press said interrogation tactics amounting to torture were okayed by Rumsfeld himself. (Reuters)

A previous complaint in Germany against Rumsfeld was dismissed, but the lawyers are confident it will be followed through this time.

"The new complaint is filed with substantial new evidence, new defendants and plaintiffs, a new German federal prosecutor and, most important, under new circumstances," the Center for Constitutional Rights said in a statement.

It cited the resignation of Rumsfeld as defense secretary and the passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 in the US granting officials retroactive immunity from prosecution for war crimes.

Rumsfeld resigned last week after Republicans lost control of Congress to the opposition Democrats, largely over popular dissatisfaction with the Iraq war.

Honecker said they are not realistically expecting to see Rumsfeld in court.

"But what we are trying to achieve is a sign that civil society is saying that he crossed the red line and we need to investigate those who are responsible," he added.

"Perhaps as a result of the suit they will start to investigate in the US military bases in Germany because many of the witnesses to what happened in Abu Ghraib will be based there."

Sitting on Ruins

More than any other official, Rumsfeld has come to symbolize the US intervention in Iraq as one of the main architects of the invasion and subsequent occupation.

He has inspired Iraqi artists, who turned their talents from painting great figures from Iraq's past like the mythical hero Gilgamesh to him.

Dominating the wall of a Baghdad art gallery in the Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiyah is a massive mural that is no tribute to Rumsfeld.

He is depicted by Iraqi painter Moayyed Mohsen leaning back reading papers, with combat-boot-clad feet propped up on a ruined building.

Beside him is a weathered image of the Lion of Babylon -- potent symbol of Iraq's illustrious past -- atop a ruined plinth.

Rumsfeld is surrounded by whirling bits of paper that morph into birds and fly off into the distance.

The image demonstrates anger not just over the occupation of Iraq but also the humiliation of a nation that once taught mankind how to write.

Mohsen said his model was a photograph he found of Rumsfeld.

"The way he sat was very strange to us here in the East -- it is an insult to those around," he said.

In the Middle East, showing the soles of one's feet is considered very poor manners, so the Rumsfeld in the painting automatically offends the viewer.

By juxtaposing his subject with ancient monuments, Mohsen sought to pit the endurance of history against the fleeting nature of man -- an apt visual statement, it turned out, in light of Rumsfeld's resignation.

"The lion is a long-lived symbol expressing creativity and sublime artistic work in Mesopotamia, while the person is modern and fleeting and will end one day."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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