by Ray Fleming

Although David Cameron got at cross purposes with other EU leaders on economic issues in Brussels yesterday he and President Sarkozy saw eye-to-eye on the need to ensure that President Bashar al Assad of Syria does not emerge unscathed from what Mr Cameron called his “medieval barbarity” in assaulting his own people. It is difficult to predict how the events of the last year in Syria will be brought to a conclusion -- there are divisions among the rebel forces resisting Assad, among the Syrian people as a whole and also in the UN security Council. But in a joint statement yesterday the French president and British prime minister said that Assad and his close supporters should in due course face an international war crimes trial and that preparatory steps towards ensuring that outcome are already taking place especially in documentation of Assad's many abusive acts. It will be recalled that a Security Council call for the International Criminal Court to open proceedings against Col Gaddafi and his son for crimes against humanity was the first step towards UN authorisation of western involvement in the Libyan crisis; Gaddafi's son is currently awaiting trial as the result of the ICC's findings. There should be no difficulty in identifying Assad's crimes against humanity and, with signs that Russia is adjusting its stance, the sooner ICC action is taken the better.

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