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Friday, October 08, 2010

Israel guilty of war crimes in Gaza says judge

Israel guilty of war crimes in Gaza says judge

Judge censured for anti-Israel comments

Frances Gibb Legal Editor
October 8 2010 12:01AM
(Times £)

A judge has been reprimanded after making “personal” anti-Israel comments at the end of a trial, the Office for Judicial Complaints said yesterday.

Judge George Bathurst-Norman reportedly compared Israel with the Nazi regime, prompting complaints from Jewish groups. The trial at Hove Crown Court saw seven activists who claimed to be preventing Israeli war crimes cleared of plotting to damage a Brighton weapons factory.

A spokesman for the Office for Judicial Complaints said: “At short notice, the judge assigned to try a politically sensitive trial at Hove Crown Court on June 28 and 29 was unable to sit. To avoid an adjournment, His Honour Bathurst-Norman agreed to replace him.

“A number of complaints were made about some of the observations he made during the trial and summing up. An investigation found that a number of these observations did not arise directly from the evidence at trial and could be seen as an expression of the judge’s personal views on a political question. This was an error. The Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice considered the conclusions of the investigation and Judge Bathurst-Norman was formally reprimanded.”

Jonathan Hoffman, co-vice-chairman of the Zionist Federation, published a transcript of the judge’s summing up to the jury on the internet. He said the judge acted like a member of the defence team.

The transcript read: “I am going to start with the background relating to Israel and Palestine and to the evidence which points to the war crimes being committed by Israel in Gaza, an area over which Israel has imposed a blockade.

“Now you have to look at the evidence coldly and dispassionately. It may be as you went through what I can only describe as horrific scenes, scenes of devastation to civilian population, scenes which one would rather have hoped to have disappeared with the Nazi regimes of the last war, you may have felt anger and been appalled by them, but you must put that emotion aside.”

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