Sunday, June 16, 2024

World news roundup: Netanyahu, Assange, UK blood scandal

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ICC prosecutor seeks arrest warrant for Israeli, Hamas leaders, including Netanyahu

JERUSALEM (AP) — The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said Monday he is seeking arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in connection with their actions during the seven-month war between Israel and Hamas.

Karim Khan said that he believes Netanyahu, his defense minister Yoav Gallant and three Hamas leaders — Yehia Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh — are responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip and Israel.

The prosecutor must request the warrants from a pre-trial panel of three judges, who take on average two months to consider the evidence and determine if the proceedings can move forward.

Israel is not a member of the court, and even if the arrest warrants are issued, Netanyahu and Gallant do not face any immediate risk of prosecution. But Khan’s announcement deepens Israel’s isolation as it presses ahead with its war, and the threat of arrest could make it difficult for the Israeli leaders to travel abroad.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said the chief prosecutor’s decision to seek arrest warrants against Israel’s leaders is “a historic disgrace that will be remembered forever.”

He said he would form a special committee to fight back against any such action and would work with world leaders to ensure that any such warrants are not enforced on Israel’s leaders.

Both Sinwar and Deif are believed to be hiding in Gaza as Israel tries to hunt them down. But Haniyeh, the supreme leader of the Islamic militant group, is based in Qatar and frequently travels across the region.

Benny Gantz, a former military chief and member of Israel’s War Cabinet with Netanyahu and Gallant, harshly criticized Khan’s announcement, saying Israel fights with “one of the strictest” moral codes and has a robust judiciary capable of investigating itself.

“The State of Israel is waging one of the just wars fought in modern history following a reprehensible massacre perpetrated by terrorist Hamas on the 7th of October,” he said. “The prosecutor’s position to apply for arrest warrants is in itself a crime of historic proportion to be remembered for generations.”

WikiLeaks founder Assange wins right to appeal against extradition order to US

LONDON (AP) — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can appeal against extradition to the United States on espionage charges, a London court ruled Monday — a decision likely to further drag out an already long legal saga.

High Court judges Victoria Sharp and Jeremy Johnson ruled for Assange after his lawyers argued that the U.S. government provided “blatantly inadequate” assurances that he would have the same free speech protections as an American citizen if extradited from Britain.

Assange, 52, has been indicted on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over his website’s publication of a trove of classified U.S. documents almost 15 years ago.

Hundreds of supporters cheered and applauded outside court as news of the ruling reached them from inside the Royal Courts of Justice.

Assange’s wife, Stella, said the U.S. had tried to put “lipstick on a pig — but the judges did not buy it.” She said the U.S. should “read the situation” and drop the case.

“As a family we are relieved but how long can this go on?” she said. “This case is shameful and it is taking an enormous toll on Julian.”

Julian Assange greets supporters outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, May 19, 2017. (File photo: Frank Augstein, AP)

The Australian computer expert has spent the last five years in a British high-security prison after taking refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for seven years. Assange was not in court to hear the ruling because of health reasons, his lawyer said.

American prosecutors allege that Assange encouraged and helped U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to steal diplomatic cables and military files that WikiLeaks published.

Assange’s lawyers have argued he was a journalist who exposed U.S. military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sending him to the U.S., they said, would expose him to a politically motivated prosecution and risk a “flagrant denial of justice.”

Inquiry slams UK authorities for failures that killed thousands in infected blood scandal

LONDON (AP) — British authorities and the country’s public health service knowingly exposed tens of thousands of patients to deadly infections through contaminated blood and blood products, and hid the truth about the disaster for decades, an inquiry into the U.K.’s infected blood scandal found Monday.

An estimated 3,000 people in the United Kingdom are believed to have died and many others were left with lifelong illnesses after receiving blood or blood products tainted with HIV or hepatitis in the 1970s to the early 1990s.

The scandal is widely seen as the deadliest disaster in the history of Britain’s state-run National Health Service since its inception in 1948.

Former judge Brian Langstaff, who chaired the inquiry, slammed successive governments and medical professionals for “a catalogue of failures” and refusal to admit responsibility to save face and expense. He found that deliberate attempts were made to conceal the scandal, and there was evidence of government officials destroying documents.

“This disaster was not an accident. The infections happened because those in authority — doctors, the blood services and successive governments — did not put patient safety first,” he said. “The response of those in authority served to compound people’s suffering.”

Campaigners have fought for decades to bring official failings to light and secure government compensation. The inquiry was finally approved in 2017, and over the past four years it reviewed evidence from more than 5,000 witnesses and more than 100,000 documents.

Many of those affected were people with hemophilia, a condition affecting the blood’s ability to clot. In the 1970s, patients were given a new treatment that the U.K. imported from the United States. Some of the plasma used to make the blood products was traced to high-risk donors, including prison inmates, who were paid to give blood samples.

Because manufacturers of the treatment mixed plasma from thousands of donations, one infected donor would compromise the whole batch.

The report said around 1,250 people with bleeding disorders, including 380 children, were infected with HIV -tainted blood products. Three-quarters of them have died. Up to 5,000 others who received the blood products developed chronic hepatitis C, a type of liver infection.

Meanwhile an estimated 26,800 others were also infected with hepatitis C after receiving blood transfusions, often given in hospitals after childbirth, surgery or an accident, the report said.

Editors’ note: MyNorthwest editors constructed this roundup using material from The Associated Press.

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