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Goldstone: Prosecutions unlikely in Gaza probe

June 9, 2009 12:03 P.M. (Updated: June 9, 2009 12:03 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - The head of a UN probe into alleged war crimes by Israel and Palestinian fighters in Gaza said his investigation was unlikely to lead to prosecutions, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.

Justice Richard Goldstone told AP, "From a practical political point of view, I wish I could be optimistic," and cited the lack of a court with the jurisdiction to hear any cases that might result from his investigation and a major obstacle to prosecution.

Israel's refusal to cooperate with the inquiry, he said, meant he was denied access to military sources as well as the Israelis subject to projectile attacks from the Gaza Strip. There were also problems in collecting information in Gaza, he said, explaining that Hamas-allied security forces accompanied his 15-member team during their five-day working visit to Gaza last week, potentially inhibiting the ability of witnesses to speak freely, according to AP.

Goldstone, a Jewish South African who also prosecuted war criminals in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, said that he hopes his report, due in September, will result in action by governments and UN bodies.

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