Tunisia security forces kill three suspected militants

Tunisian Ministry of Interior (pictured) said security forces killed three militants from the Daesh affiliated Jund Al-Khilafa group. (File/Wikipedia)
Updated 05 May 2019
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Tunisia security forces kill three suspected militants

TUNIS: Tunisian security forces have killed three suspected militants from a Daesh group affiliate in the center of the country, the interior ministry said Sunday.
A statement said “three of the most dangerous terrorists” from the Jund Al-Khilafa (Soldiers of the Caliphate) group were “eliminated” Saturday evening near the town of Sidi Ali Ben Oun, 230 kilometers (140 miles) southwest of Tunis.
It identified the men as Hatem ben Aid Basdouri, 40, Mohamed ben Ibrahim Basdouri, 35, and Montassar ben Khraief Ghozlani, 31.
Security forces seized weapons, ammunition, explosives and suicide vests, the authorities said.
In an earlier statement Saturday the ministry said it also had managed to “thwart terrorist projects” planned for upcoming Muslim holy month Ramadan after arresting another suspected militant.
Tunisian security forces regularly conduct search operations in the mountainous areas near the border with Algeria to hunt down Deash- and Al-Qaeda-linked militants.
In March the interior ministry said security forces had shot dead three alleged Jund Al-Khilafa members accused of involvement in the grisly killings of shepherds in the restive Kasserine region.
Since its 2011 revolution, Tunisia has experienced multiple militant attacks that have killed dozens of members of the security forces and 59 foreign tourists.
The country has been under a state of emergency since November 2015, when a Daesh-claimed suicide bombing in Tunis killed 12 presidential guards.


Could foreign Daesh suspects be tried in northeast Syria?

Updated 51 min 55 sec ago
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Could foreign Daesh suspects be tried in northeast Syria?

  • The Kurdish authorities say they are seriously exploring how to set up an international tribunal

QAMISHLI: Months after the territorial defeat of Daesh, Syria’s Kurds are pushing for an international tribunal to try alleged militants detained in their region.

The Kurds run an autonomous administration in the northeast of Syria, but it is not recognized by Damascus or the international community.

This brings complications for the legal footing of any justice mechanism on the Kurds’ territory, and the international cooperation required to establish one.

With Western nations largely reluctant to repatriate their nationals or judge them at home, could foreign Daesh suspects be put on trial in northeast Syria?

After years of fighting Daesh, Syria’s Kurds hold around 1,000 foreign men in jail, as well as some 12,000 non-Syrian women and children in overcrowded camps.

Almost four months after Kurdish-led forces backed by the US-led coalition seized Daesh’s last scrap of land in eastern Syria, few have been repatriated.

The Kurdish authorities say they are seriously exploring how to set up an international tribunal, and invited foreign experts to discuss the idea at a conference it hosted early this month.

“We will work to set up this tribunal here,” the region’s top foreign affairs official Abdelkarim Omar told AFP afterwards.

“The topic of discussion now is how we will set up this tribunal and what form it will take,” he said.

Daesh in 2014 declared a “caliphate” in large parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq, implementing its brutal rule on millions in an area the size of the UK.

The militants stand accused of a string of crimes including mass killings and rape, and a UN probe is investigating alleged war crimes.

Mahmoud Patel, a South African international law expert invited to the July conference, said any court should include input from victims and survivors.

It should be “established in the region where the offenses happened so that the people themselves can be part of that process,” he said, preferably in northeast Syria because the Kurds do not have the death penalty.

In Iraq, hundreds of people including foreigners have been condemned to death or life in prison.

In recent months, a Baghdad court has handed death sentences to 11 Frenchmen transferred from Syria to Iraq in speedy trials denounced by human rights groups.

Omar, the foreign affairs official, said he hoped for an international tribunal to try suspects “according to local laws after developing them to agree with international law.”

The Kurdish region has judges and courts, including one already trying Syrian Daesh suspects, but needs logistical and legal assistance, he said.

A tribunal would have “local judges and foreign judges, as well as international lawyers” to defend the accused, he said.

Nabil Boudi, a French lawyer representing four Frenchmen and several families held in Syria, said the Kurdish authorities seemed determined.

“They’re already starting to collect evidence,” he said after attending the conference.

“All the people who were detained and jailed had their own phone” and data can be retrieved from them, said the lawyer, who was however unable to see those he represents.

Boudi called for “a serious investigation by an independent examining magistrate ... that should take time and be far less expeditious than in Baghdad.”

Stephen Rapp, prosecutor in the trial of Liberian ex-president Charles Taylor, said the most realistic option to try foreigners in northeast Syria would be a Kurdish court.

It could have “international assistance conditioned on compliance with international law,” he said, including advice from a non-governmental organization specialized in working with non-state actors.