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14.10.2010

Riwal investigated

The offices of Dutch based international rental company Riwal were subjected to a search yesterday by the Dutch Ministry of Justice.

The company has issued a statement saying that the search followed a report or claim by an unknown party. It says that the reason for the investigation is still unclear.

The investigators took away some paper documentation and computer files for further investigation.

Liesbeth Zegveld of Böhler the Amsterdam human rights lawyer, has issued a press release stating that she filed a criminal complaint against Riwal on March 15th on behalf of the Palestinian organization Al-Haq. The organistation claims that the company’s equipment has been used to help build the wall being erected between Israel and Palestine and in occupied territory of the West Bank.

The International Court of the Hague ruled in 2004 that the wall is illegal under international law.

As a result the action accuses the company of war crimes and crimes against humanity, based on the assumption that it was aware that its machines were being used for what it describes as an illegal activity.

The Dutch prosecutor has yet to decide that there is any case to answer and if it decides there is, whether or not it will pursue the complaint any further.

Comment -update

The likelihood of a prosecution going ahead look very slim according to Professor Marcel Brus an expert on international law and member of the advisory council on questions of public international law to the Dutch Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Speaking to the Dutch news site Spits he suggests that the public prosecutor is unlikely to pursue the case, although the decision is certainly its to make.

"This is a unique case, even internationally, the Hague Court, has indeed condemned the building of the wall, but has said nothing about companies that are involved. It is also debatable whether they are criminally liable. Building something is not a crime against humanity, it is the existence of the wall that violates the Palestinians rights, not the building of it”

Spits goes on to suggest that the raid on Riwal may have been politically motivated to coincide with the installation of the new cabinet, which it says wishes to improve relations with Israel.

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