Activist's family seeks extradition

Determines British peace activist shot in Gaza 3 yrs. ago was unlawfully killed.

hurndall parents AP 298 (photo credit: Associated Press)
hurndall parents AP 298
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The family of slain International Solidarity Movement activist Tom Hurndall will seek to extradite officers of the IDF's Southern Command to Britain to answer charges of war crimes under the Geneva Convention. The demand came after a London coroner's inquest on Monday found that Hurndall "was shot intentionally with the intention of killing him" by an IDF soldier on April 11, 2003 in Rafah. Anthony Hurndall called for prompt action by the British government against Israel in response to the death of his son. "There have been five officers of the Israeli army named in the proceedings today and they should be investigated by the government here. British citizens in Israel are not safe, nor are the local civilians safe," he said. The St. Pancras Coroner's Court heard testimony from Hurndall's parents that Sgt. Taysir Hayb of the Beduin Desert Reconnaissance Battalion shot the 22-year old university student from north London in the head. An opponent of the military action against the Saddam Hussein regime, Hurndall traveled to Iraq in the spring of 2003 to serve as a "human shield." Evidence that Saddam was using Western peace activists to shield military installations prompted Hurndall to move on to the Gaza Strip to work with the ISM. Hurndall was shepherding Palestinian children out of the line of fire and was wearing a bright orange jacket to identify himself as a non-combatant when he was shot, his mother told the court. He died from his wounds nine months later and an IDF court found Hayb guilty of manslaughter and sentenced him to eight years in prison in 2005. However, Hayb was a "scapegoat" for those higher up the military chain of command, Anthony Hurndall charged, saying he would ask the British government to see that "justice" was done. "As a matter of the Geneva Conventions Act, the British government is obliged to pursue those who commit any war crime, and illegal killing is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions Act," he said. Imran Khan, the solicitor for the Hurndall family, told The Jerusalem Post that "the family is seeking assurances that appropriate action will now be taken against those further up the chain of command of the Israeli military in the Southern Command whom the family hold responsible in a systematic fashion for the death of their son Tom." They hope to "find a mechanism were they are brought to this country to stand trial for these serious allegations." In April 2004, Dr. Andrew Reid, the St. Pancras coroner, took jurisdiction of the case after Khan petitioned for the cases of Tom Hurndall and James Miller be heard before a single court. On Thursday, Reid presided over the inquest investigating the death of Miller, which found the British filmmaker had been murdered by the IDF in Rafah, in a shooting that took place three weeks after Hurndall was shot. After the verdict was announced, Reid said he would write to the attorney-general to see if there were any further legal action that could be taken over the deaths. "Given that two people died in these circumstances," Khan said, "the recurrence indicates a pattern." "Under the Geneva Convention Acts, the UK has a responsibility to respond to grave breaches of the convention," Khan said, as the "attorney-general has the power under the Geneva Convention to make sure it doesn't happen again." A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in London said the verdict was being reviewed and a statement would be issued soon.