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Palestinian Seeks Prosecution of Israeli Under Dutch Law


THE HAGUE, Netherlands - Lawyers for a Palestinian who claims he was tortured in an Israeli jail are seeking a Dutch arrest warrant for Israel's former spy chief, a human rights activist today.

The lawyers are appealing Dutch prosecutors' decision not to investigate Ami Ayalon when he visited the Netherlands last May. Ayalon is a minister without portfolio for Israel and the former head of its Shin Bet security service, which is responsible for intelligence activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The case is the latest example of Palestinians appealing to outside courts under a principle known as universal jurisdiction, which says some crimes are so serious they can be prosecuted anywhere, not just in the country where they were committed.

Khalid al-Shami alleges he was tortured while he was jailed in Israel for 50 days early in 2000, torture that left him permanently seriously injured.

Raji Sourani, director of the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights, said in a telephone interview that Ayalon bears responsibility for the alleged torture because he was head of Shin Bet at the time.

Dutch lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld said she filed the case yesterday with the Court of Appeal in The Hague. The court did not immediately return calls seeking confirmation, but it has the power to order prosecutors to open an investigation.

Ayalon was defiant yesterday when asked for reaction to the ruling.

"I am proud of everything I have done in all my years in the war on terror, including my years at the head of the Shin Bet," he said.


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