RAMALLAH, October 10 (JMCC) - When Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni recently visited London, it wasn't changes in the law that protected her from arrest for alleged war crimes in Gaza.
Instead, British authorities evoked a special immunity clause to allow her to escape prosecution, explain lawyers
for the Palestinian plaintiffs in al-Jazeera.net
Livni's arrest was ordered by a British court in 2009, but authorities subsequently changed the law to prevent claims against her and other Israeli officials from going forward.
On October 6, 2011, Ms Livni returned to the United Kingdom. A stated purpose of her visit was to celebrate this change in the law.
In advance of her visit, and acting on behalf of civilian victims of war crimes in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights and Hickman & Rose requested that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) authorise the arrest of Ms Livni or consent to the victims applying to court for a second judicial arrest warrant. This application was made in full conformity with the recent legislative changes.
Extensive evidence indicating Ms Livni's individual criminal responsibility was presented to the DPP, and an effective dialogue was established with senior crown prosecutors that enabled relevant, admissible additional evidence to be supplied at their request. However, following the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's last-minute (apparently) retroactive attribution of diplomatic immunity to Ms Livni, on the basis of her visit constituting a special mission, the DPP issued a statement that he had been blocked from making any decision as to her arrest.