Lawyers Charge NATO leaders, Nuremburg Principles, how we can help


Jan Slakov

Date:      Sun, 9 May 1999 12:56:00 -0400
From: Eric Fawcett <•••@••.•••>
Subject: sfp-61: Lawyers charge NATO Leaders + Nuremberg Principles



A group of lawyers from several countries has laid a formal complaint with
the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia against all
of the individual leaders of the NATO countries and officials of NATO

The group, led by professors from Osgoode Hall Law School of York
University in Toronto --where Tribunal prosecutor Louise Arbour was also a
professor before becoming a judge -- have charged Bill Clinton, Madeleine
Albright, Javier Solana, Jamie Shea, Jean Chretien, Art Eggleton, Lloyd
Axworthy and 60 other heads of state and government,foreign ministers,
defence ministers and NATO officials, with war crimes committed in NATO's
six-week old bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.

The list of crimes includes "wilful killing, wilfully causing great
suffering or serious injury to body or health, extensive destruction of
property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully
and wantonly, employment of poisonous weapons or other weapons to cause
unnecessary suffering, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages,
or devastation not justified by military necessity, attack, or
bombardment, by whatever means, of undefended towns, villages, dwellings,
or buildings, destruction or wilful damage done to institutions dedicated
to religion, charity and education, the arts and sciences, historic
monuments and works of art and science."

The complaint also alleges "open violation" of the United Nations Charter,
the NATO treaty itself, the Geneva Conventions and the Principles of
International Law Recognized by the Nuremberg Tribunal (the latter of
which makes "planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of
aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or
assurances" a crime).  Under the Statute "a person who planned,
instigated, ordered, committed or otherwise aided and abetted in the
planning, preparation or execution of a crime shall be individually
responsible for the crime" and "the official position of any accused
person, whether as Head of State or Government or as a responsible
Government official, shall not relieve such person of criminal
responsibility or mitigate punishment."

The complaint points to the bombing of civilian targets and alleges that
NATO leaders "have admitted publicly to having agreed upon and ordered
these actions, being fully aware of their nature and effects" and that
"there is ample evidence in the public statements of NATO leaders that
these attacks on civilian targets are part of a deliberate attempt to
terrorize the population to turn it against its leadership."

The complaint cites a recent statement of the President of the Tribunal,
Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, urging that: "All States and organisations
in possession of information pertaining to the alleged commission of
crimes within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal should make such
information available without delay to the Prosecutor."

The complaint also cites a statement of United Nations High Commissioner
for Human Rights Mary Robinson in which she says that "large numbers of
civilians have incontestably been killed, civilian installations targeted
on the grounds that they are or could be of military application and NATO
remains sole judge of what is or is not acceptable to bomb...In this
situation, the principle of proportionality must be adhered to by those
carrying out the bombing campaign. It surely must be right to ask those
carrying out the bombing campaign to weigh the consequences of their
campaign for civilians in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia."  

Under the Statute, the Prosecutor is bound to "initiate investigations
ex-officio or on the basis of information obtained from any source,
particularly from Governments, United Nations organs, intergovernmental
and non-governmental organizations" and to "assess the information
received or obtained and decide whether there is sufficient basis to
proceed. Upon a determination that a case exists, the Prosecutor is bound
to "prepare an indictment containing a concise statement of the facts and
the crime or crimes with which the accused is charged under the Statute
and transmit it to a judge of the Trial Chamber."

The complaint asks Judge Arbour to "immediately investigate and 
indict for serious crimes against international humanitarian law" the 67 
named leaders and whoever else shall be determined by the Prosecutor's 
investigations to have committed crimes in the NATO attack on Yugoslavia 
commencing March 24, 1999." 

Copies of the charges have been sent to the accused. 

Participating in the action are 15 lawyers and law professors as well as
the American Association of Jurists, a pan American organization of
lawyers, judges, law professors and students, with membership in all
countries of the American Continent from Tierra del Fuego to Canada, an
NGO with consultative status before the Social and Economic Council of the
United Nations.

Professor Michael Mandel, spokesman for the group of complainants, said in
Toronto today: "The bombing of civilians is not only immoral, it is
criminal and punishable under the laws governing the Tribunal. You cannot
kill a woman and child in Belgrade on the theoretical possibility that it
might save a woman and child in Pristina. Even in a legal war you cannot
kill civilians and destroy an entire country as a military strategy. But
this is an illegal war and the NATO leaders are acting like outlaws. So
far they have risked nothing by sending others to do their killing and
destroying. We believe that if they are held individually responsible, as
the law requires, they won't feel so free to spill other peoples' blood."

For further information please contact: 
- in Toronto: 
Professor Michael Mandel, telephone 416-736-5039, email <•••@••.•••> 
or David Jacobs, email <•••@••.•••> 

- in Geneva: Alejandro Teitelbaum, e-mail •••@••.•••


   PRINCIPLE I: Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime
under international law is responsible therefor and liable  to punishment.

   PRINCIPLE II: The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for
an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve
the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law.

   PRINCIPLE III: The fact that a person who committed an act which
constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or
responsible Government official does not relieve him from responsibility
under international law.

   PRINCIPLE IV: The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his
Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under
international law , provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.

   PRINCIPLE V: Any person charged with a crime under international law has
a right to a fair trial on the facts and law.

   PRINCIPLE VI: The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes
under international law:
 (a) Crimes against peace: (i) Planning, preparation, initiation or
waging a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties,
agreements or assurances; (ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy
for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i)
 (b) War crimes: Violations of the law or customs of war which include,
but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to
slave-labour or for any other purpose of civilian populations of or in
occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of  prisoners of war  or on the
seas,  killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton
destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified  by
military  necessity.
(c)   Crimes against humanity: Murder, extermination, enslavement,
deportation and other inhuman acts done against any civilian population, or
persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are
done  or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connexion
with any crime against peace or any war crime.

   PRINCIPLE VII: Complicity in commission of a crime against peace, a war
crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime
under international law. 

* From the 1950 Yearbook of the International Law Commission

Date: Fri, 14 May 1999 04:07:01 -0800
From: •••@••.••• (Joyce Lydiard)
Subject: Fwd: Taking action against Nato leaders for War Crimes

>From: "Michael Mandel" <•••@••.•••>
>Subject: Taking action against Nato leaders for War Crimes
>Date: Thu, 13 May 1999 23:49:15 -0400
>I apologize for responding in a general email to all of your incredibly
>heart-warming messages. We have been receiving hundreds of messages from
>around the world since the complaint against the leaders of the Nato
>member countries to the Hague was released last Friday. We want to respond
>to everyone who wishes us well and/or wants to get involved.
>To all of the voices of support and encouragement, thank you so much. It
>means a great deal to hear the voices of the opposition to this war so
>loud and strong.
>Many people have asked for a complete copy of the complaint. You can find
>the text posted at and
> under "Legal guide to the Kosovo
>conflict - Legal News"
>Please feel free to disseminate it as widely as possible.
>I think the best way to help is to add your voices to the call to indict
>these individual leaders. The Prosecutor is
>bound by the Statute (Article 18.1) to investigate "on the basis of
>information obtained from any source". That means you, too. Please tell
>her, like you're telling me, that you want these people charged. She is
>bound by the law and her office to listen. Incredible as it may seem, she
>has the legal power, in fact the legal duty, to bring these people to
>justice and, most importantly, to stop them from continuing their criminal
>bombing campaign.
>So the best way to help is to telephone, fax and e-mail the Prosecutor the
>International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and tell her in
>your own words that you are witnessing terrible crimes being committed
>within her jurisdiction by world leaders and you want them stopped.
>The email address is •••@••.•••; the telephone number is
>+31-70-416-5360 and the fax number is +31-70-416-5356. The Prosecutor is
>Madam Justice Louise Arbour.
>Yours truly, Michael Mandel