Top lawyer quits over fail­ure to try al-As­sad for war crimes

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

VI­ENNA: The UN Com­mis­sion of In­quiry on Syria has gath­ered enough ev­i­dence for Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad to be con­victed of war crimes, a prom­i­nent mem­ber of the com­mis­sion, Carla del Ponte, has said.

Del Ponte, 70, who pros­e­cuted war crimes in Rwanda and for­mer Yu­goslavia, an­nounced last week that she was step­ping down from her role in frus­tra­tion at the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil’s fail­ure to con­tinue the com­mis­sion’s work by set­ting up a spe­cial tri­bunal for Syria that could try al­leged war crim­i­nals.

She has not said when she will leave her post.

She said she was con­vinced there was enough ev­i­dence for As­sad to be con­victed of war crimes. “That is why the sit­u­a­tion is so frus­trat­ing. The prepara­tory work has been done. De­spite that, there is no pros­e­cu­tor and no court.”

The Syr­ian gov­ern­ment led by As­sad de­nies re­ports by the com­mis­sion doc­u­ment­ing wide­spread war crimes com­mit­ted by gov­ern­ment-backed forces and Syria’s se­cu­rity ser­vices.

Del Ponte, a for­mer Swiss at­tor­ney gen­eral, joined the three-mem­ber Syria in­quiry in Septem­ber 2012, chron­i­cling in­ci­dents such as chem­i­cal weapon at­tacks, a geno­cide against Iraq’s Yazidi pop­u­la­tion, siege tac­tics, and the bomb­ing of aid con­voys. The com­mis­sion was set up in Au­gust 2011 and has reg­u­larly re­ported on hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions, but its pleas to ob­serve in­ter­na­tional law have largely fallen on deaf ears.

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