Αpplication - information - Uranium - Former Yugoslavia

Αpplication - information - Uranium - Former Yugoslavia


The following application - information of the three organizations mentioned below was submitted to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Ms Carla Del Ponte on June 14th, 2 and the President of the Tribunal, Judge Claude Jorda was also notified on July 9th, 2.

UNION OF GREEK JUDGES AND PROSECUTORS FOR DEMOCRACY AND CIVIL LIBERTIES
UNION OF THE BAR ASSOCIATIONS OF GREECE

MARANGOPOULOS FOUNDATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

The above-mentioned organizations, in accordance with article 18, paragraph 1, of the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), have the honour to bring the following information to your attention, in connection with NATOs use of depleted uranium missiles in the course of its military operations in the territory of the former Yugoslavia.

1. As has been widely reported in the press, a number of persons who have been exposed to the effects of such missiles have developed leukemia and other forms of cancer, and many have died as a result.

For our part, we would like to inform you that at least two members of the Greek military forces who were present in the area targeted by the bombing campaigns and have consequently been exposed to the effects of depleted uranium, have developed serious illnesses of the above-mentioned kind. The Greek Ministry of National Defense refuses to provide relevant information. Nevertheless, the press published the name of one of the individuals concerned, Thrassyvoulos Kopanos, a sergeant who served in the Greek military forces in the area in 1998-1999 (see attachments 10 and 10a, Eleftherotypia newspaper, 5 January 2, Greek original and translation into English). The relevant medical certificate is attached herewith (see attachment 10b, translation into English).

We would also like to point out press reports according to which two Greek students in Yugoslavia have developed such illnesses. There are further reports that six employees at military factories where tires of military vehicles and tracks of tanks used either in Kosovo or during the Gulf War were burnt, have died of galloping leukemia (see attachments 13 and 13a, Kathimerini newspaper, 14 February 2, Greek original and translation into English).


While it is true that it cannot be proved with absolute certainty that these particular individuals became ill as a result of their exposure to the effects of depleted uranium, we submit that reports of an overall higher than average rate of cancer and leukemia among the armed forces and civilians in areas affected by the bombings establish a causal link between exposure to depleted uranium missiles and contracting of cancerous illnesses. The cases of the Greek nationals mentioned above must be taken into account in any evaluation of the effects of depleted uranium missiles.

It is a well-known fact that such missiles were used during the Gulf War (see attachment 7, article of Le Monde, 11 January 2). It is also an undeniable fact that a number of persons, both civilians in Iraq and Kuwait, as well as soldiers serving in "Operation Desert Storm" who were exposed to the effects of these missiles have died or have developed leukemia or other forms of cancer. A substantial percentage of children of persons exposed to depleted uranium have been born with serious birth defects. In the light of these developments, investigations were undertaken especially in the United States on the consequences of exposure to the effects of depleted uranium missiles.

It has been claimed that the results of these as well as other investigations were inconclusive. Yet the views expressed by Dr. Doug Rokke, US Army expert on depleted uranium (see attachments 17 and 17a, interview with Pondiki newspaper, 31 May 2, Greek original and translation into English) as well as other experts, both Greek and foreign (particularly Prof. A. Schott, see attachment 18), leave no doubt as to the disastrous effects of depleted uranium.

According to nuclear physicists, the presence of depleted uranium on the surface creates radiation hazards through the emitted radiation of the chain-transmutation daughters; as dust produced upon impact and explosion of a projectile, depleted uranium creates a radiation hazard in an extended area due to the dispersion of the aerosol. It must also be noted that depleted uranium 238U has a half-life of approximately 4,5 billion years (see attachment 1, expert opinion of A. Panagiotou, Professor at the University of Athens and scientific collaborator of CERN, as well as the bibliography cited therein).

As pointed out by international medical experts, the stochastic consequences of exposure to even the most negligible level of radiation, namely cancer and genetic malformations, may manifest themselves after a number of years, even decades. These experts emphasize that no conclusion can be drawn from the fact that samples measured in areas affected by the bombings do not at this stage show an increase in the level of radioactivity since low-level radioactivity has advanced in depth and would be expected to be identified at a later stage in the food chain, admittedly at lower levels (see attachment 2, expert opinion of the Medical team of the Greek Affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, a distinguished association that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985; and attachment 3, expert opinion of Ass. Prof. G.A. Rigatos, Director of the Department of Medical Oncology, Hospital "Saint Savas", Athens). In addition, uranium is toxic as a heavy metal and causes, in particular, damage to the renal function (see attachment 4, expert opinion of Dr. G. Ioannidis, Director of the Hellenic Dialysis Service, General Hospital of Athens "G. Gennimatas", and the international bibliographical references therein).

In a nutshell, there is actually sufficient scientific evidence (see aforementioned attachments 1, 2, 3, 4, 17, 17a and attachment 8, article of Le Monde diplomatique, February 2), that exposure to depleted uranium causes serious hazards to human health.

Moreover, at the time the bombings were ordered, the toxicity of depleted uranium and its deleterious effects on health were known in the USA (see aforementioned attachments 2, 3, 4 and 8) - and at the highest level (see aforementioned attachments 17 and 17a) - as well as in the UK (see attachments 12 and 12a, Kathimerini newspaper, 16 January 2, Greek original and translation into English). Why else would the US Army require the drafting of safety instructions for the handling of depleted uranium (see aforementioned attachments 17 and 17a)? Why else would UN de-mining teams have been warned to avoid contact with tanks damaged by the bombings (see attachments 12 and 12a)? Why else did the representatives of the US Department of Defense - the most powerful voice within NATO - promise during a meeting of the White House Special Presidential Commission at which experts pointed out the deleterious effects of the use of depleted uranium missiles, that such missiles would not be used during the NATO bombing campaign in Yugoslavia (see aforementioned attachments 17 and 17a)? - which, unfortunately, did not prevent them from breaking their promise.

The situation has been considered serious enough for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to recommend, on the basis of information available, that the Committee of Ministers call for a ban on the manufacturing, testing, use and sale of weapons containing depleted uranium or plutonium (see attachment 5, Recommendation 1495 (2) on the Environmental impact of the war in Yugoslavia on South-East Europe, adopted on 24 January 2). Moreover, the European Parliament called on the Members of the European Union that are also Members of NATO to propose that a moratorium be placed on the use of depleted uranium weapons (see attachment 6, European Parliament resolution on the consequences of using depleted uranium munitions, adopted on 17 January 2).


2. The question arises as to the criminal responsibility of persons involved in the NATO bombing campaigns. In this respect, we recall that article 7 of the ICTY Statute provides for the individual criminal responsibility not only of persons who actually committed a crime within the Courts jurisdiction, but also of those who "planned, instigated, ordered … or otherwise aided and abetted in the planning, preparation or execution" of such crime. In addition, the said article enshrines the fundamental principle of international criminal law that official position does not relieve a person of criminal responsibility. Thus, the political and military leaders of NATO may be held accountable as regards the use of depleted uranium missiles in the territory of the former Yugoslavia.

In view of the above, we submit that the political and military leaders of NATO (natural persons) responsible for ordering the use of depleted uranium during the NATO bombing campaign have committed the following crimes, as further explained below:

(I) a violation of the laws or customs of war under article 3(a) of the ICTY Statute; and
(II) grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 under article 2(a) and (c) of the ICTY Statute.

I. Violation of the laws or customs of war under article 3(a) of the ICTY Statute concerning "employment of poisonous weapons or other weapons calculated to cause unnecessary suffering."

a) Criminal intent (mens rea)

As stated above, the evidence regarding the devastating consequences of the use of depleted uranium missiles was known at least to a number of persons responsible for NATO military actions in the territory of the former Yugoslavia. These individuals deliberately chose to disregard it. It must further be noted that these persons did not undertake any clean-up activities in the areas affected by the bombings (see aforementioned attachments 17 and 17a) .

We thus submit that the behaviour of those responsible for the NATO bombing campaigns in Yugoslavia meets the standard of dolus directus, or at least, eventualis, which, in accordance with the penal legislation of a number of countries around the world, entails criminal responsibility for the acts in question.

b) Criminal conduct

We acknowledge that, at the moment, there is no specific treaty prohibiting the use of depleted uranium munitions. However, we agree with the humanitarian law expert Eric David that the prohibition of the employment of weapons causing unnecessary suffering is not limited to those weapons which are expressly prohibited by international conventions (Eric David, Principes de droit des conflits armes, 2nd ed. (Brussels, Bruylant, 1999), at 283-293.).

The term "unnecessary suffering" can be interpreted in two ways. It may refer to the suffering of the victim per se, or to the military advantage gained by the use of such weapons. We maintain that under either interpretation, article 3 (a) of the ICTY Statute comes into play in the present context.

If one takes the former interpretation, contracting leukemia or other forms of cancer which lead to death after long suffering or having serious congenital abnormalities surely qualifies as "unnecessary suffering". As a matter of fact, an ICRC study on weapons which cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering concluded, inter alia, that such weapons include those which cause "specific disease, specific abnormal physiological state..." or "effects for which there is no well recognized and proven treatment." (R. M. Copland, "The SIrUS Project: Towards a Determination of which weapons cause "Superfluous Injury or Unnecessary Suffering" in The Changing Face of Conflict and the Efficacy of International Humanitarian Law (H. Durham and T.L.H. McCormack, eds., The Hague/London/Boston, Martinus Nijhoff, 1999) 99-118, at 112.) And while there has been progress in the fight against leukemia and other forms of cancer, the results of treatments are more often than not unsuccessful. As for serious birth defects, they are irreversible.

If we were to look at the issue from the other perspective, i.e. the principle of proportionality, it is clear that the suffering potentially caused to persons and the damage to the environment are far too excessive as compared to the military advantage gained by NATO.

In any event, the military superiority - particularly as regards the airforce - of NATO over Yugoslavia was such, that the use of depleted uranium missiles was clearly unnecessary to defeat the latter. Moreover, a basic principle in radiation protection is that any exposure should be justified, that is, the benefit for those exposed should exceed the risk (see above-mentioned attachment 2).


II. Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 under article 2 of the ICTY Statute, specifically willful killing (par. (a)) and willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health (par. (c))

a) Criminal intent (mens rea)


As discussed above, by using depleted uranium missiles in spite of existing evidence of their detrimental effect, NATO consciously accepted that its action might entail such effect. The individuals giving the order to use such missiles thus acted "willfully".

b) Criminal conduct

Inasmuch as civilians, i.e. persons protected under the Fourth Geneva Convention, have been exposed to the above-described effects of the use of depleted uranium missiles, NATO officials have committed the grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 of willful killing and willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health.

III. Moreover, it can be said that, given the above-mentioned devastating and long-term effects on the health of the population living in the area affected by the bombings, as it will be constantly contaminated by the radioactivity which has penetrated the ground, the water and the food-chain, the use of depleted uranium missiles borders on a genocidal act under article 4 of the ICTY Statute. However, the extent to which the specific intent requirement for an act to constitute genocide has been met in the case of NATOs use of depleted uranium missiles needs further investigation.



In view of the above, the aforementioned organizations appeal to you, Madam Prosecutor, to assess all the information you have no doubt received on the issue from various sources, including our own submission, in order to proceed with an investigation, and to prepare indictments under article 18, paragraph 4, of the Statute. We are confident that you will take the necessary action to ensure that the provisions of the ICTY Statute are implemented without discrimination between victors and vanquished, between the powerful and the weak.

Athens, 14 June 2

For the Union of Greek Judges and Prosecutors for Democracy and Civil Liberties , The President: C. Menoudakos, Justice of the Supreme Administrative Court (Conseil dEtat).

For the Union of the Bar Associations of Greece, The President: A. Roupakiotis, President of the Bar Association of Athens.

For the Marangopoulos Foundation for Human Rights, The President: A. Yotopoulos-Marangopoulos, Em. Prof., Panteion University of Athens.

LIST OF ATTACHMENTS

1. Dr. A. Panagiotou, Professor at the University of Athens, Department of Physics-Nuclear & Particle Division and Scientific collaborator of CERN, Expert Opinion on the Repercussions from the use of Depleted U238 in Ammunition, 06-03-2.

2. The Greek Medical Association for the Protection of the Environment and against Nuclear and Biochemical Threat, Greek Affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) - Nobel Peace Prize 1985, Expert Opinion on the Effects of Uranium Bombs on Health.

3. Ass. Prof. G.A. Rigatos, Director of the Department of Medical Oncology, Regional Cancer-Oncologic Hospital of Athens "Saint Savas", Expert Opinion on harm to the Health from the Use of Missiles with Depleted Uranium, 18-04-2.

4. Dr. G. Ioanidis, Nephrologist, Director of the Hellenic Dialysis Services, General Hospital of Athens "G.Gennimatas", Expert Opinion on the Nephrotoxicity of Uranium.

5. Council of Europe, Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1495 (2) on the Environmental Impact of the War in Yugoslavia on Southeast Europe, adopted on 24 January 2.

6. European Union, European Parliament Resolution on the Consequences of Using Depleted Uranium Munitions, adopted on 17 January 2.

7. J. Isnard, Uranium Appauvri: ce que les etats - majors de l OTAN savaient, Le Monde, 11.01.2.

8. R.J. Parsons, Loi du silence sur luranium appauvri: des mensonges couverts par les Nations Unies, Le Monde Diplomatique, February 2.

9. Les Nations Unies confirment la contamination de sites bombardes par lOTAN, Le Monde, 06.01.2.

10 & 10a. D.Vayena, Eleftherotypia newspaper, 05.01.2 (Greek original and translation into English).
10b. Medical Certificate of Sergeant Thrasivoulos Kopanos, (translation into English).

11 &11a. Y.Kapopoulos, The dirty logic of clean wars, Kathimerini newspaper, 07.01.2 (Greek original and translation into English).

12 & 12a. NATO looks for …radioactive evidence & Th, Kartali, Concern and pressures for full clarification, Kathimerini newspaper, 16.01.2 (Greek original and translation into English).

13 & 13a. K. Akrivopoulou, Uranium: deaths at a military factory, Kathimerini newspaper, 14.02.2 (Greek original and translation into English).

14 & 14a. Uranium: Two and a half years of anxiety, Kathimerini newspaper, 17.01.2 (Greek original and translation into English).

15 & 15a. M. Simons, Doctor discovers traces of uranium, Kathimerini newspaper (reprint from New York Times), 30.01.2 (Greek original and translation into English).

16 & 16a. C. Kallergis, 2,000 Belgians sick from uranium and chemicals, Kathimerini newspaper, 01.02.2 (Greek original and translation into English).

17 & 17a .Interview with Dr. Doug Rokke, US Army Expert on DU, Pondiki newspaper, 31.05.2 (Greek original and translation into English).

18. Scott Taylor, Depleted Uranium in Iraq and Yugoslavia (May 11th), E-mail from Paul Saoke, Director of Programs, IPPNW-Kenya.