March 19, 2003


NEW YORK (AP) -- Canada's largest independent oil producer can be held liable for genocide if it can be proven it cooperated with the Sudanese government to wage war on civilian populations near oil fields, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Talisman Energy Inc. cannot escape trial on the civil claims contained in a class-action lawsuit filed on Nov. 11, 2001, U.S. District Judge Allen G. Schwartz said. A lawyer for the company did not immediately return a telephone message for comment. . . .

The lawsuit accused the company of collaborating with Sudan to commit gross human rights violations, including murders, forced displacement, war crimes, confiscation and destruction of property, kidnapping, rape and enslavement.

It described the current Sudanese government as a "Taliban-style Islamic fundamentalist movement" that was engaging in a "war of genocide" that has already claimed two million lives and displaced four million people, with the violence aimed at wiping out Christians and those practicing religions other than a strict form of Islam.

Hmm. Funny, I usually only hear American companies accused of this kind of stuff. No doubt it's all somehow Dick Cheney's fault, though.

Then there's this story:

PARIS Six decades after his parents were arrested and deported from German-occupied France, an Austrian-born French Jew went to court here Wednesday to demand that France's national railroad company accept its responsibility and express remorse for transporting Jews to Nazi death camps. . . .

This case dates back to 1991 when Schaechter, a retired musical instruments salesman, was searching in France's National Archives in Toulouse for information about his parents, both of whom were killed by the Nazis. Shocked by the evidence he found of French cooperation with the Germans, he violated regulations by removing documents to be photocopied, then returning them to their files. Over nine months, he copied more than 12,000 documents.

Among these was a letter written by the SNCF and dated Aug. 12, 1944, nine weeks after Allied troops landed in Normandy, demanding payment of 200,000 francs from the regional government of the Haute-Garonne Department in southern France for transporting Jewish detainees from concentration camps to the French border with Germany. In the letter, the SNCF warned that interest would be charged if the payment were not made on time.

This was just one of the myriad documents that Schaechter used in his long, and to date unsuccessful, campaign to have France open up its wartime archives, most of which remain sealed.

I guess that Andrea Peyser is right. But you watch -- the same people who are covering this stuff up will be piously claiming to sit in judgment on how the United States conducts the war.