Friday, February 22, 2008
By Allan Nairn
"The other day a Chilean journalist asked whether the Spanish Guatemala genocide prosecution was mainly "symbolic," but I said that it was more than that since international arrest warrants had been issued. (Re. the prosecution see postings of February 5, 7, and 9, 2008).
What neither of us knew was that as we were speaking one of the defendants had just died, and that the International Herald Tribune/ AP headline would read: "Former Guatemalan police director wanted in Spain for crimes against humanity dies" (International Herald Tribune website, February 18, 2008).
Though that only begins to ping the surface of the lake of blood that is his legacy, it is not a bad summing-up of the life of Col. German Chupina, torturer, rapist, murderer, and steward of the American Chamber of Commerce in Guatemala (AMCHAM).....
That's one small benefit of trying to enforce the murder laws, even in a world that doesn't yet want to. Sometimes the proceeding makes chroniclers feel free to call things by their proper names.....
Yesterday's Haaretz tells the story of Israeli Gen. Doron Almog who, in 2005, cowered in a plane for two hours on the tarmac at London's Heathrow airport and thereby "escaped arrest for alleged war crimes ... because U.K. police feared an arrest would spark a shootout with Israeli security officials..." ( Haaretz Service, "Report: IDF general dodged U.K. arrest as police feared shootout," Haaretz, February 20, 2008.)
He wasn't such a shrinking violet when he allegedly lobbed flesh-shredding flechette shells at Gaza civilians or was smashing 50 homes there, but its different when you're not playing on your home court, and there's real law enforcement, with guns.
As it happened, this outbreak of law enforcement was unexpected, and quickly contained. Citizens had complained, a local British court had issued a warrant, the cops went to do their job, and after the general had returned to Israel -- where the cops had no job to do -- the British Foreign Office apologized profusely.
The general deplaned.
Tony Blair recently went to the trouble of commenting that a similar contemplated British case against Avi Dichter, Israel's Public Security Minister, was "utter nonsense" (The case concerns a "targeted killing" that killed the target's wife and three children, among others. Dichter last year threatened Palestinians with a "Nakba" -- cataclysm -- if they kept remembering their 1948 Nakba), an interesting remark by Blair, a man now tasked by the Quartet as an honest broker on Israel-Palestine, and who backed an Iraq invasion that his own Foreign Office's deputy legal adviser called "a crime of aggression" (which is prosecutable)......"