Dr Mahathir Announces War Crimes Tribunal Without Government Backing!
He said the tribunal -- and an investigating commission linked to it -- was necessary as an alternative to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which he accused of bias in its selection of cases to cover.
The court does not have government backing and Mahathir admitted he needed money to set it up and that it would be hard to persuade heads of government accused of wrongdoing to attend.
"There will be people who take this thing seriously," he said. "This is not a show."
"The one punishment that most leaders are afraid of is to go down in history with a certain label attached to them," he added at a press conference. "In history books they should be written down as war criminals and this is the kind of punishment we can make to them. "We cannot arrest them, we cannot detain them, and we cannot hang them the way they hanged Saddam Hussein."
Dr Mahathir, who played a high-profile role on the international stage before stepping down in 2003, has seized on the issue of conflict in the Middle East during his retirement. He did not specify who would be targeted by the tribunal, but said it would focus on abuses in Iraq, Palestinian territories and Lebanon -- indicating it was aimed at United States and Israeli military actions. "We think that it is time we set up a body, a tribunal, which will give an opportunity for these people to bring up their complaints to be heard."
Mahathir also plans a war crimes commission which would first investigate allegations of abuse. He will sit on its panel along with five Malaysian legal experts, including one from the nation's hardline Islamic opposition party.
The tribunal would be staffed by former judges and law professors from home and abroad, including a Malaysian former chief justice, he said.
However he conceded it would be difficult to obtain the evidence needed to conduct a thorough trial and that the proposal was short on funding. "We are asking for donations from interested people," he said. "It's not been easy."
Mahathir will next week host a war crimes conference attended by some 17 Palestinians, Iraqis and Lebanese who allege they are the victims of abuse and torture. The new commission will then begin investigating their cases. The tribunal itself, provided its judges have been appointed, would operate as soon as the inquiry panel has referred its first dossier upward.
Mahathir did not specify if the court would have a defence and prosecution, saying the accused would be invited to send their representative, but vowed it would not be like the "kangaroo court" that tried Saddam. (Channel Newsasia)
***** So there you are. He is actually unilaterally setting up a war crimes tribunal as well as a commission! If there is one person who can see this through successfully, it is undoubtedly Dr Mahathir. Frankly an alternative tribunal is a good idea. Too much western control of the present mechanism is not a very healthy situation. We wish him good luck and great success.
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