CNN – A Belgian lawyer filed a suit on Wednesday against Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, under Belgium’s controversial law that allows its courts to try foreigners for war crimes.
Lawyer Jan Fermon filed the suit in a Brussels court on behalf of 19 Iraqis whom he describes as victims of U.S. cluster bombs and alleged U.S. attacks on ambulances and civilians.
On Tuesday, top U.S. Gen. Richard Myers warned the suit could make Belgium, home to NATO’s headquarters, a no-go zone for meetings.
Washington has urged Belgium to prevent the abuse for “political ends” of a law which gives its courts power to try foreigners for serious human rights crimes.
Fermon’s suit will be a test case for Belgium’s universal jurisdiction law which was recently revamped to stem a flood of cases # including suits against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and former U.S. President George W. Bush # deemed politically and diplomatically sensitive.
The reformed law allows Belgium to pass certain war crimes cases to other countries and allows the judiciary to reject complaints filed by plaintiffs who are not Belgian citizens or who have lived in Belgium for less than three years.