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Sun Nov 23 04:12:22 SAST 2014

UN investigators gunning for Syrian warlords

Reuters | 19 February, 2013 00:14
Hairdresser-turned-freedom fighter Um Jaafar with other Syrian women undergoing military training under the auspices of the Free Syrian Army in the Syrian city of Aleppo

UN investigators said yesterday that Syrian leaders they had identified as suspected war criminals should face the International Criminal Court.

The investigators urged the UN Security Council to "act urgently to ensure accountability" for violations - including murder and torture - committed by both sides in a conflict that has killed an estimated 70000 people since a revolt against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.

"Now really it's time . We have a permanent court, the International Criminal Court, [which] would be ready to take this case," Carla del Ponte, a former ICC chief prosecutor who joined the UN team in September, said at a news conference in Geneva.

The inquiry, led by Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro, is tracing the chain of command to establish criminal responsibility.

"Of course, we were able to identify high-level perpetrators," Del Ponte said, adding that these were people "in command responsibility . deciding, organising, planning and aiding and abetting the commission of crimes".

She said it was urgent for the Hague-based war crimes tribunal to take up cases of very high officials.

Del Ponte said the ICC prosecutor would need to deepen the investigation on Syria before an indictment could be prepared.

  • EU governments yesterday agreed to extend sanctions against Syria for three months but said they would amend an arms embargo to provide more non-lethal support and technical assistance to protect civilians.

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