AFP, Mar. 19, 2003
Seven Iraqi families have filed a lawsuit against former US president George Bush, father of the current president, and three other US leaders for alleged crimes during the first Gulf War in 1991, a lawmaker said.
The lawsuit cites Bush senior, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and retired US Army General Norman Schwarzkopf, who led operation Desert Storm against Baghdad, said deputy Patrick Moriau.
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Cheney was US defence secretary at the time of the first Gulf War, while Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The action was brought under Belgium’s universal competence law, which allows legal proceedings against people accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide, regardless of their nationality or location.
The families who brought the action are either victims or relatives of victims of a US bombing of a civilian shelter in Baghdad that killed 403 people in February 1991, Moriau said.
Two of the families currently live in Belgium, added the socialist lawmaker, who accompanied the Iraqi plaintiffs when they filed the lawsuit.
Heads of state, prime ministers and foreign ministers are immune from the Belgian universal competence law while in office.