While the German Chancellor is – contrary to earlier reports – apparently planning to visit the US President even before his second inauguration in January, a US human rights group, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, is about to disturb the two governments’ reconciliation efforts.
According to a report by the German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau (quoted by The Raw Story, Reuters), the American activists will file war crimes charges in Germany against senior U.S. administration officials – including Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and former Central Intelligence Agency director George Tenet – for their alleged responsibility for crimes committed in the Abu Ghraib prison.
Despite claims by the group that “German law in this area is leading the world” – because it allows war criminals to be prosecuted in Germany regardless of where the crime was committed or the defendant’s nationality – whether the German Federal Prosecutor will actually investigate will depend upon the evidence provided. Their German lawyer, Wolfgang Kaleck, seems not overly confident in this respect, stating that he hopes that “the Federal Prosecutor?s Office takes [the] affair seriously.”
However, the case will certainly not be dismissed for political reasons – and thus the Chancellor may actually have to hold another embarrassing meeting with the American President in January. The media, however, is certain to take the issue seriously when details of the case will be presented at news conferences today.
Update:The AP reports that the complaint was indeed filed Tuesday morning. The German Federal Prosecutor’s spokesperson, Frauke Scheuten, said “[w]e have received it and are looking into it.” But she declined to comment about the likelhood of an official investigation. As I already alluded to above, the group’s German attorney doesn’t seem too hopeful and expecting it will take some time before a decision is made.