World Bulletin / News Desk
Algeria's ex-military chief Khaled Nezzar very likely will be prosecuted on war crimes charges for his role in the bloody civil conflict of the 1990s, a Swiss legal body said on Tuesday.
In a judgment released earlier in the day, Switzerland's top criminal court rejected claims from Nezzar that he could not be tried outside his home country for offences allegedly committed when he was defence minister there from 1990-1993.
"This is an historic judgment which means he can be tried here for what he did," Philip Grant, director of the Geneva-based TRIAL, an organisation that seeks to assure that war crimes suspects are brought to trial, told Reuters.
"It may take some time for it to happen, but the way is now open."
The general, who had become defence minister in 1990, was among leaders of a coup that overthrew then-president Chadli Benjadid in 1991 after the Islamic Salvation Front (ISF) emerged as victor in parliamentary elections.
The vote was declared void and in the ensuing violence, dubbed the "dirty war" which lasted until 1999, some 200,000 people died, mainly civilians massacred by groups.
Nezzar, believed to still wield considerable influence in Algiers, was arrested in Geneva last October on a complaint filed by TRIAL after his familiar burly, mustachioed figure was spotted in the street, apparently on a visit to a bank.
Two Algerian citizens, who have been granted political asylum in Switzerland, backed the complaint, telling Swiss investigators that they had been tortured and abused by soldiers while he held the defence post, Grant said.
After two days of hearings, the 74-year-old general was released after promising that he would take part in any further proceedings. But Grant said lawyers had since represented him while Nezzar himself was believed to be in Algeria.
Nezzar's lawyers could not immediately be contacted.
Lost French suit
Former Algerian officers who fled to France say that many of the killings in Algeria were the work of the military. Nezzar lost a libel suit in Paris in 2002 against one of these officers who had alleged he had directed "false flag" attacks.
Nezzar left his official post in 1993, when the military's ruling High Council of State was dissolved, but diplomats say he kept a powerful role behind the scenes for several years thereafter.
Grant, whose organisation seeks to ensure that senior officials of regimes involved in oppression of their civilian populations do not go unpunished, said Swiss prosecutors would resume hearing witnesses against the general.
Then it would be up to the Swiss Federal Prosecutor, under a law passed in 2011, to formerly indict him. "If he declines to come back to Switzerland as he promised, there could be a question of an international arrest warrant," Grant added.
The Swiss lawyer said the decision by the court, based in Bellinzona in southeast Switzerland, "sets a ground-breaking precedent that could well be followed by many other countries in handling cases like this".
The relatives of soldiers taken by the militant group from Tikrit north of Baghdad had been scheduled to address parliament about the fate of their loved ones
The two had spent three months in Israeli administrative detention
By convening a joint session of parliament, where Sharif has a solid majority, the prime minister seeks to reaffirm that he is fully in control of the situation.
A political crisis in Pakistan means many are watching out for the army's reaction but the army itself is denying any involvement.
The trial comes as civil society groups voice increasing concern over what they say is a rise in the number of criminal defamation cases brought by the military against rights workers and journalists
Although no date has been set for the transfer, the Pentagon in July handed the U.S. Congress a legally required 30-day notice that it intended to transfer the small group of prisoners from the base in Cuba
Mohamed Ali Nasri told reporters in hospital that about five gunmen attacked his house
Police used pepper spray to disperse activists as Hong Kong centre braces for a wave of disruptive protests against China's decision.
Fiji said the group was demanding compensation for three fighters killed in the confrontation with the U.N. peacekeepers, as well as humanitarian assistance to the people of Ruta, and the removal of the organisation from the U.N. list of banned terrorist organisations.
Although Australia is not a NATO member, its troops fought alongside the coalition in Iraq and Afghanistan
More than 2,000 Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh will be allowed back into Myanmar.
The militia said in a statement that was signed by its first deputy head Nouredine Adam that it was not consulted about the selection of the three ministers who should represent it in the new government.
Channel 2 broadcast a video allegedly of the Iranian drone being shot down by Israel's air defense over the Golan Heights.
Oxfam said that mega public-private partnerships are unproven, risky and represent a dubious use of public funds to fight poverty and food insecurity.
Leading Nigerian rights group Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) asked the ICC prosecutor to investigate information that top Nigerian government officials were sponsoring Boko Haram.
Azarakhsh Hafizi, chairman of the Gas Importer’s Association, told journalists in Kabul on Monday that traders were ready to help the government in cutting down the price of this basic commodity.