- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Terrorism and justice

Germany’s justice minister denounced the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. and British troops, saying the scandal undermined the fight against terrorism.

“What American and British soldiers did to the Iraqi prisoners is abominable and cannot be justified by anything,” Brigitte Zypries told a Washington audience at the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

She said the United States must show “perseverance” in its prosecution of the soldiers accused of abusing the prisoners, who included suspected terrorists and militants loyal to Saddam Hussein.

“Not only the U.S. but the entire community of nations must now make an effort to mitigate the loss of confidence we suffered in the Arab world,” Miss Zypries said in her speech Monday.

Germany, where some of the September 11 terrorists plotted their attack on the United States, views the fight against terrorism as a criminal matter rather than a war, she said.

“We, therefore, reject the idea of setting up extraordinary [antiterrorism] courts and have decided in favor of upholding constitutional standards and respecting human rights, both in regard to criminal prosecution as well as detention and prison conditions,” Miss Zypries said.

“We must remain within the bounds set by the rule of law, since it is democracy and the state governed by the rule of law that we are defending against terror,” she said.

Germany adopted antiterrorism laws in the 1970s and 1980s to combat attacks by the communist Red Army Faction, she said, explaining that the measures include procedures to exclude a defense attorney from some criminal proceedings.

“At the time, these provisions were justified with the need for a strong democracy, and they are still justified today based on this premise. The provisions remain practically unchanged,” she said.

Germany has about 80 ongoing criminal investigations against 177 suspects linked to Islamic extremist groups, but the most important cases involve two men accused of planning the September 11 attacks.

Miss Zypries said authorities are appealing the acquittal of Abdelghani Mzoudi and preparing to retry Mounir El Motassadeq. Prosecutors accused them of belonging to al Qaeda’s Hamburg cell.

In both cases, the United States withheld an important witness, believed to be Ramzi Binalshibh, on national security grounds, Miss Zypries said.

“We must be very conscious of the consequences of such action,” she said. “If information cannot be made known in a trial due to overriding security interests, we must accept that the court hearing the case may … acquit,” she said.

Oil supply reversal

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador, is worried that the continued high price of oil will soon damage the world economy.

“High oil prices have negative effects on both consuming and producing nations,” he said, as his government announced a reversal in its position on oil production this week. “We do not want to see prices that are detrimental to the global economy.”

Saudi Arabia on Monday announced it will propose a production increase of 1.5 million barrels per day at the May 22-24 meeting of oil ministers of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in Beirut.

That would offset the cut of 1 million barrels per day last month that has pushed up the price of gasoline to about $2 per gallon. Saudi Arabia also has said it wants to keep prices at about $27 per barrel. The price now is about $39.

“This production increase would help satisfy the continued increase in demand, especially in Asia, that is anticipated for the second half of 2004,” Prince Bandar said.

“Unfortunately, prices have reached their current level partly because the market is subject to unjustified concerns that supplies from certain oil-producing countries may be disrupted.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]


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