Cape Times

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


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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