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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Britain demands that Israel try army officer in shooting incident

Britain has given Israel a Tuesday deadline to respond to its demand to try an IDF captain for the murder of British photographer James Miller, who was filming a 'documentary' in the Philadelphi corridor four years ago. For those who have forgotten, the Philadelphi corridor (see map) is on the border between Gaza and Egypt, and has been the preferred route for weapons smugglers, especially since Israel turned the Gaza Strip over to the 'Palestinians' in 2005. The incident happened about two months after American Rachel Corrie was crushed by an Israeli bulldozer while trying to prevent the destruction of a home that was being used to house a weapons tunnel. The IDF officer is named by the Times of London and by the JPost, but not by Haaretz. From the name, he is apparently not Jewish.

Should Israel not accede to the British demand, Britain may request that the officer in question be extradited to Britain to face charges there. Israel and Britain have an extradition treaty, although I find it hard to believe that Israel would actually extradite an IDF officer to another country to face trial for acts done while in an IDF uniform. On the other hand, with Ehud K. Olmert in charge, one never knows.

This is from the Times of London account:
Miller, who was married with two children, was shot dead in the Gaza Strip on May 2, 2003 while making a film about children caught in the crossfire of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. [He is the front cameraman in the picture below at right. CiJ]

His death was captured on video along with seven shots. The soundtrack of that footage was key to the expert evidence commissioned by Scotland Yard proving that all seven shots came from al-Heib’s APC.

It also formed a key part of the documentary Death in Gaza made by Miller’s colleague Saira Shah who was with him when he died. The programme won a host of awards, including three Emmys.

The Israeli authorities accept there are grounds to suspect that al-Heib shot Miller, but insist there is insufficient evidence to prove he was responsible. As a result, they have refused to prosecute him and stalled on paying any compensation to Miller’s widow Sophy and their children, Alexander, 7, and Lottie, 4.

Miller’s brother John said the family wanted al-Heib prosecuted but believed that a trial in the UK was more likely to produce justice. “We’ve exhausted every possibility for a criminal prosecution in Israel,” he said.

He added that the family was “immeasurably grateful” to Goldsmith, whose intervention came after “years of indifference from our own government and rebuff, lies and cheating from the Israeli government”.

Sophy Miller said: “In light of the new acoustic evidence, we fully expect to prove in an Israeli court that the state of Israel is responsible for James’s killing.”
Haaretz raises the extradition issue:
In a letter to the family of James Miller, a 34-year-old photojournalist shot and killed in the Gaza Strip, Lord Peter Goldsmith, Britain's attorney general, says he wrote Mazouz on June 26 and gave him six weeks to respond. The deadline is on Tuesday.

According to Goldsmith, after an inquest by a coroner, Dr. Andrew Scott Reid, Miller had been unlawfully killed by troops of the Israel Defense Forces.

"Dr. Scott Reid wrote to me and invited me to consider instituting criminal proceedings in the United Kingdom against... members of the Israeli Defence Forces... for an offence of willful killing contrary to section I of the Geneva Conventions Act 1957."

While Goldsmith's letter does not explicitly discuss a possible request for an extradition, British law requires that any suspects be in British custody for charges to be brought up against them. Israel and Britain have an extradition treaty, and a refusal to extradite military personnel may result in a crisis between the two countries.

Justice Ministry sources confirmed that Goldsmith's letter had been received, but could not say how they would respond in the matter.

According to attorneys for the Miller family, Avigdor Feldman and Michael Sfard, as of last night there had still not been an official Israeli response to the letter from the British attorney general.
The Jerusalem Post adds that
Israel's Foreign Ministry said that it was the purview of the Justice Ministry and the IDF Spokesman's Office to respond to the British demand. The IDF has not yet issued a statement.
But Haaretz's leftist writer Akiva Eldar has already tried and convicted multiple IDF troops:
The incident in which Miller was killed occurred near the Philadelfi route on the Israel-Egypt border, where he was filming a documentary. He and his crew tried to enter the Gaza Strip from a house where they had been filming. They were holding a white flag.

A British inquiry, in part based on evidence from the video recording of the incident, showed that Miller was shot in the neck by an IDF patrol.

At the time the IDF expressed its sorrow for Miller's death and said that "the entry of photographers into war zones during exchanges of fire endangers both sides."

However, according to eyewitnesses, there had been calm in the area at the time of the shooting.

Initially, the IDF suggested that Miller had been killed by Palestinians. Ballistic tests carried out on behalf of Miller's family showed that IDF troops killed Miller, and the Military Advocate General ordered an investigation into the killing.

Following a lengthy investigation, it was decided in March 2005 not to press criminal charges against those involved because of insufficient evidence. The commander of the Israeli force that shot and killed Miller faced disciplinary proceedings for illegal use of firearms, but was exonerated.

Miller's family filed a suit against the State of Israel for murder, and in 2006 a British jury ruled the killing a murder.

In his letter to the Miller family, Lord Goldsmith points to the conclusions of an expert analysis of the video of the shooting, which he says was sent to Mazuz. According to the British attorney general, the conclusions of the expert "disproved the [Israeli] suggestion that the shots came from two areas... [and] identified the direction of the shot that killed James as coming from the armoured vehicle."

In Goldsmith's letter, received by Haaretz, the British attorney general writes that the ballistic tests carried out in Israel "could only show that the bullet that killed James did not come from the rifle barrels of the weapons that were examined." In essence, the senior British official is charging Israeli authorities with tampering with evidence, there having "been a significant opportunity for the rifle barrels to have been changed."

Requests to try those responsible and compensate the family - Miller is survived by his wife Sophy and two children - were raised at high-level talks between the two countries, including meetings between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his then counterpart, Tony Blair.

According to Feldman, the Israeli government did not treat these requests with the required seriousness and has not considered it necessary to compensate the families.
And yes, both Feldman and Eldar are known to be leftists.

Again, Israel cannot be in a position where it extradites IDF troops to face trials in other countries for actions taken while in IDF uniform. Israel may have no choice but to try the IDF officer involved again. Unfortunately, should he be acquitted, we can count on our own leftists not to accept the trial's results. I believe that the IDF officer probably shot the cameraman by mistake, which is why the inquiry found him 'not responsible' for the cameraman's death. 'Palestinians' come out with white flags and start shooting all the time. The mainstream media and the West cannot or will not understand that.

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