It seems former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has arrived in France at the wrong time, when human rights groups charged him with a lawsuit accusing the architecht of the Iraq war of ordering the torture of several prisoners in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay. The complaint was filed with the Paris prosecutor and the human rights groups are cautiously confident about the outcome although there are lot of French and American politics involved in the ultimate result of the lawsuit.
According to Jeanne Sulzer, French attorney with the International Federation of Human Rights, there is a grave danger that the former secretary of defense would be able to escape from the country and the human rights groups are banking on the prosecutor and the French authorities to nail him. But given the rapport between president Bush and president Nicholas Sarkozy, it is highly unlikely that the French authorities would carry out any hasty decision to bring one of the most influential persons in American politics to justice.
This is the fifth time that a case has been brought against Donald Rumsfeld and the current one is much stronger as French courts can prosecute individuals who are involved in acts of torture if they are present on french soil. But the current situation makes the equation a bit different. Unlike former french president Jacques Chirac, president Sarkozy has shown a lot of intention to follow president Bush’s tough policy on Iran and as a result there is lot of doubt that the French would hurt such a good relationship by prosecuting one of president Bush’s close aides.
Even though this is an extremely strong case against Rumsfeld (he cannot claim diplomatic immunity because of his resignation from his post of secretary of defense last year), there is every chance that the French higher-ups along with the US embassy in Paris are working hard to provide Mr.Rumsfeld a safe passage back to America. Sources in Paris have indicated that the place where Mr.Rumsfeld is attending a conference is linked to the US embassy and he has never reappeared from there.
The prosecutors also know that Donald Rumsfeld would possibly be able to escape any sort of French prosecution as was the case in Germany where US pressure prevented any action against him. But according to Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, the latest lawsuit would indicate to Mr.Rumsfeld that he has no place to hide, wherever he goes he would have to fight or escape various judicial challenges.