| In Denmark - Israeli Ambassador Gillon Supports Using Torture | Israeli officials fear war crimes arrests abroad | Jewish Telegraphic Agency |
15 July 2001
COPENHAGEN (AFP) - Human rights organisations in Denmark have urged the government to reject the appointment of Israel's new ambassador to Denmark, Carmi Gillon, after he told Danish media that he supported the use of torture on suspected Palestinian militants.
Gillon, who was the head of the Israeli secret service in the mid-1990s, recently told Danish media he supported the use of "moderate physical pressure" on suspected Palestinians.
A number of human rights organisations have urged the Danish government to either reject Gillon's appointment or pursue him in court for breach of the United Nations convention on torture.
"We cannot have a situation where torturers are allowed to walk freely in Denmark," said Jens Modvig, general secretary of the Copenhagen-based International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims.
"It would be an insult to torture victims and to the many years of international efforts against torture if a man who has hundreds of cases of torture on his conscience were allowed to walk freely on the streets of Copenhagen," Modvig said.
"Under the UN convention, Denmark has a duty to pursue suspected torturers in justice, and if the Danish government refuses to reject Gillon outright then it should take measures to pursue him in court when he arrives," Modvig said.
He also urged the government to revoke the immunity granted to diplomats in order to pursue Gillon.
Gillon is scheduled to take up his post in September.
Danish Foreign Minister Mogens Lykketoft said in a statement he would not block Gillon's appointment.
"During many years of uninterrupted practice, it has been the responsibility of foreign governments to decide who they deem appropriate to represent them in Denmark," he said.
However, he made clear Denmark's opposition to the use of torture.
"We distance ourselves strongly from any use of torture. We will protest against any country whose actions violate the UN convention on torture," he stressed.
"The newly appointed Israeli ambassador has in recent days indicated that there may be a need to reintroduce methods of moderate torture. There shall be no doubt that the Danish government strongly opposes this stance, which is in direct breach of the convention on torture which Israel has signed," Lykketoft said.
JERUSALEM (July 26, 2001 01:15 p.m. EDT) - With officials afraid of facing arrest or prosecution while traveling abroad, Israel has compiled a list of countries where its political and military leaders - including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon - could face legal challenges under war crimes laws, an official said Thursday.
Israel's Foreign Ministry decided to "map" countries around the world in light of requests from several current and retired security officials who are concerned, ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said.
He did not mention which countries would be considered problematic for Israeli officials. But the ministry said Israel wanted to prevent "the politicization" of the international judicial system.
Two recent incidents have given the issue prominence in Israel.
In Belgium, a Palestinian filed a complaint against Sharon, accusing him of responsibility in 1982 in the killing of hundreds of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Sharon was defense minister at the time the killings were carried out by a Lebanese Christian militia allied with Lebanon.
Belgium has a law that allows for the prosecution of war crimes, wherever they occurred.
In Denmark, lawmakers have threatened to file a complaint against Israel's designated ambassador to Denmark, Carmi Gilon. In a recent interview, Gilon said that when he was head of Israel's security service, the Shin Bet, he authorized torture of Arab suspects to prevent imminent attacks. The Israeli Supreme Court has since outlawed the practice.
Israel "acknowledges the need to compile a list of countries whose wide-ranging authority enables them to act against foreign citizens for acts committed in foreign countries," read the statement by the Foreign Ministry.
Sharon told Israel radio there was "an attempt to harm Israel and the Jewish people, and thus there is activity to stop this danger."
The complaint filed against Sharon in Belgium was a preliminary move, and a Belgian judge has yet to decide on whether the case should proceed.
An Israeli government investigation in the 1980s found Sharon indirectly responsible for the killings in Lebanon, forcing him to step down as defense minister.
In Gilon's case, Danish lawmakers, politicians and human rights activists have called on Israel to withdraw his candidacy, but Israel insists it will not do so. Gilon is to begin his new job in Copenhagen on Aug. 15.
Danish Justice Minister Frank Jensen said Wednesday that Gilon would not be arrested, noting that he would have diplomatic immunity as an ambassador.
Israeli President Moshe Katzav criticized Denmark on Thursday, insisting that Gilon, as chief of the Shin Bet, "acted according to the Israeli government's orders."
"Denmark has never spoken out against Palestinian terrorists," Katzav added.
A diplomatic storm is brewing over Israel's choice of a new ambassador to Denmark after the Danish justice minister threatened to arrest the envoy if he sets foot on Danish soil. Israel's nomination of Carmi Gillon has sparked outrage in Denmark because Gillon has admitted authorizing the torture of Palestinian suspects when he led Israel's Shin Bet domestic security service between 1994 and 1996. Despite the threat, Israel said it would send Gillon to Denmark.
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