Rumsfeld Torture Case Dropped in France

PARIS (AP) – A Paris prosecutor has thrown out a complaint against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for torture in Iraq and at the U.S. military detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, a lawyer for one of the four groups that filed the case said Friday.

The prosecutor dismissed the case on the grounds that Rumsfeld benefits from immunity, said attorney Patrick Baudoin, president of the International Federation of Human Rights. The organizations that brought the complaint have asked the prosecutor to reconsider.

The complaint was filed Oct. 25 during a visit by Rumsfeld to Paris.

Prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin said Rumsfeld is covered by the immunity accorded to heads of state or government and foreign ministers for acts during their time in office, according to a letter seen by The Associated Press. The French Foreign Ministry advised the prosecutor’s office in the matter, the letter said.

Rumsfeld’s one-day visit last month was enough time for the European and American human rights groups to take advantage of a French disposition by which people suspected of torture can be prosecuted in France if they are on French soil.

The complaint said that Rumsfeld, in his former position as U.S. defense secretary, “authorized and ordered crimes of torture to be carried out … as well as other war crimes.”

It cited documents including memos from Rumsfeld, internal reports and testimony from former U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski – the one-time commander of U.S. military prisons in Iraq.

The Bush administration has repeatedly denied the government tortures people.

The complaint was filed by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights and two Paris-based groups, the International Federation of Human Rights and the League of Human Rights.

The International Federation for Human Rights cited cases it claimed had set a precedent for a new interpretation of immunity. Those included Chile’s late dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who was pursued in Europe in 1990s and, more recently, former Chad President Hissene Habre, indicted by a Belgian court last year for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.