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Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was referred to the ICC. (Image: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

A 92-page document, endorsed by more than 100 Australian lawyers and barristers, has been submitted to the International Criminal Court accusing Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of “complicity” in Israel’s genocidal attack on the Gaza Strip. 

A team of Australian lawyers has referred the country’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to the International Criminal Court “as an accessory to genocide in Gaza”.

In a statement on Tuesday, Birchgrove Legal, which filed the case, said the referral makes him “the first leader of a Western nation to be referred to the ICC under Article 15 of the Rome Statute.”

The team said it spent months “documenting the alleged complicity and outlining the individual criminal responsibility of Mr Albanese in respect to the situation in Palestine.”

The 92-page document, which has been endorsed by more than one hundred Australian lawyers and barristers, was submitted to the Office of ICC Prosecutor, Karim Khan on Monday. 

The document, the legal team said, sets out a number of actions taken by the PM and other ministers and members of parliament, including Foreign Minister Wong and the Leader of the Opposition, for the Prosecutor “to consider and investigate.”

The statement said these include freezing $6 million in funding to the primary aid agency operating in Gaza – UNRWA – “amid a humanitarian crisis based on unsubstantiated claims by Israel after the International Court of Justice had found it plausibly to be committing genocide in Gaza” as well as providing military aid and approving defense exports to Israel, “which could be used by the IDF in the course of the prima facie commission of genocide and crimes against humanity,” 

It also pointed out the government “Ambiguously deploying an Australian military contingent to the region, where its location and exact role have not been disclosed”; permitting Australians, “either explicitly or implicitly,” to travel to Israel to join the Israeli army and take part in its attacks on Gaza; as well as providing “unequivocal political support for Israel’s actions, as evidenced by the political statements of the PM and other members of Parliament, including the Leader of the Opposition.”

Albanese, however, has dismissed the referral to the ICC reportedly saying “it clearly has no credibility going forward.”

“I don’t think that peaceful resolution is advanced by misinformation, and there has been substantial amounts of misinformation about what is occurring,” the Prime Minister told reporters ahead of the ASEAN-Australia summit in Melbourne.

He also reportedly said “If you go back to the resolution that was carried with the support of both major parties in October, they made it very clear that every innocent life matters, whether it’s Israeli or Palestinian.”

Rome Statute

Barrister Sheryn Omeri, who is leading the legal team said the case was legally significant because it focused exclusively on two modes of accessorial liability.

“The Rome Statute provides four modes of individual criminal responsibility, two of which are accessorial,” Omeri said.

“In relation to accessorial liability, a person may be criminally responsible for a crime set out in the Rome Statute if, for the purpose of facilitating the commission of that crime, that person aids, abets or otherwise assists in the commission of the crime, or its attempted commission, including by providing the means for its commission. 

“Secondly, if that person in any other way contributes to the commission of the crime or its attempted commission by a group, knowing that the group intends to commit the crime.”

Omeri said the Article 15 communication had been carefully drafted by those instructing her and was now a matter for the Prosecutor to consider.

“The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC is already pursuing an ongoing investigation into the situation in the State of Palestine, which it has been conducting since March 2021,” Omeri said.

Principal solicitor at Birchgrove Legal, Moustafa Kheir, said his team had twice written to Albanese, putting him on notice and seeking a response on behalf of the applicants who make up a large consortium of concerned Australian citizens, including those of Palestinian ethnicity.

Kheir said communications were ignored on both occasions.

“The Prime Minister has ignored our concerns and given the limited avenues we have for recourse under national law, we have been left with little option but to pursue this Article 15 communication to the International Criminal Court.”

He added: “As lawyers and barristers, it is impossible to sit back and watch sustained breaches of international law while Albanese continues to refer to the perpetrator as “a dear friend.”

More than 30,600 Killed

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7. 

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 30,631 Palestinians have been killed, and 72,042 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip. 

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire.’

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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