The legality of killing Osama bin Laden
The Guardian reports that the chorus of official applause from international leaders over the death of Osama bin Laden has failed to silence doubts about the killing’s legality. Despite widespread backing for the raid, there is a growing demand for the precise legal basis of the US operation to be explained.
Prof Nick Grief, an international lawyer at Kent University, said the attack had the appearance of an “extrajudicial killing without due process of the law”. He added: “It may not have been possible to take him alive … but no one should be outside the protection of the law.” Even after the end of the Second World War, Nazi war criminals had been given a “fair trial”.
Human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC also argued that the killing risked undermining the rule of law. “The Security Council could have set up an ad hoc tribunal in The Hague, with international judges (including Muslim jurists), to provide a fair trial and a reasoned verdict,” he wrote in the Independent. “This would have been the best way of demystifying this man, debunking his cause and de-brainwashing his followers.”
US officials have now conceded that Bin Laden was not armed during the assault, did not fire back and that his wife was only injured in the assault, most likely in the crossfire, according to unnamed officials quoted by the US website Politico.
And contrary to initial US reports, The Telegraph reveals that Osama bin Laden did not use one of his four wives as a human shield in his dying moments, as White House officials began to “clarify” earlier accounts of Monday’s commando raids by US special forces.