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Legality of killing bin Laden 'matter for US,' says Cameron

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, May 4, IRNA -- Prime Minister David Cameron has declined to say whether the reported assassination of Osama bin Laden was carried out within the confines of a proper legal authority in international law.

“The legal position and the legal advice is a matter for the United States. It was a US operation with US troops, so it is entirely a matter for that country,” Cameron said.

“I think we should focus today on the fact that the world is undoubtedly better off without that man still being at large,” he said, while answering questioning in parliament on Tuesday about the US killing.

Liberal Democrat MP Martin Horwood said that Foreign Secretary William Hague had confirmed that military action against individuals such as Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi should take place only within the confines of proper legal authority.

“Does the Prime Minister expect it to be confirmed that that was also the case for the undoubtedly courageous action against Osama bin Laden?” Horwood asked.

Several international lawyers have already questioned the legality of the US targeted assassination, which was carried out in a mission under orders to reportedly kill, rather than capture.

White House spokesman Jay Carney has since admitted that bin Laden was unarmed when he was shot and killed by US special forces, insisting the commandos had been prepared to take the al Qaida leader alive, but that he had been 'resisting' when he was killed.

Professor Nick Grief, an international lawyer at Kent University, said the attack had the appearance of an 'extrajudicial killing without due process of the law'.

'It may not have been possible to take him alive,” Grief said, without knowing the circumstances, but warned that “no one should be outside the protection of the law' and that even Nazi war criminals had been given a 'fair trial' after World War Two.

Renowned British defence lawyer Michael Mansfield also expressed similar doubts, saying that it was imperative that a properly documented and verifiable narrative of exactly what happened is made public, “whatever feelings of elation and relief may dominate the airwaves.'

“The serious risk is that in the absence of an authoritative narrative of events played out in Abbottabad, vengeance will become synonymised with justice, and that revenge will supplant 'due process',” Mansfield said.

The Americans, he told the Guardian, “must not be allowed to submerge core questions about the legality of the exercise, nor to permit vengeance or summary execution to become substitutes for justice.'

Human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson argued in the Independent newspaper on Tuesday 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. This would have been the best way of demystifying this man, debunking his cause and de-brainwashing his followers,' Robertson said.

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Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30371000



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