The household of Danish Siddiqui, a Reuters photojournalist who was killed in Afghanistan final yr, has filed a grievance with the Worldwide Felony Court docket (ICC) towards the Taliban, lawyer Avi Singh, representing Siddiqui’s household, mentioned.
“… We have now simply filed earlier than the Worldwide Felony Court docket a communication addressing the struggle crimes and crimes towards humanity in context to what occurred to Danish Siddiqui,” Singh mentioned, including that “there may be adequate unbiased proof that he was tortured, murdered and his physique was mutilated”.
Siddiqui, who received 2018 the Pulitzer Prize for his protection of the Rohingya refugee disaster, was killed final July whereas reporting in Spin Boldak district of Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan.
A number of stories and investigations, together with by this reporter, have corroborated disturbing particulars of the unlawful detention, torture and homicide of Siddiqui and the mutilation of his physique. An Afghan commando, Sediq Karzai, was additionally killed alongside the journalist.
“The Taliban had refused to return his physique to the authorities. We needed to make a number of appeals to their leaders, and reasoned that he was Muslim and deserved a good burial,” Jan Mohammad, an area civil activist concerned with the investigations final yr, instructed Al Jazeera.
Mohammad’s identify has been modified to guard his id.
“Ultimately, they agreed at hand over his physique to the ICRC (Worldwide Pink Cross and Pink Crescent Motion) who gave it to the native hospital. However when it arrived, it was so badly desecrated that it couldn’t be recognized.
“The physician attending the case instructed us that there have been clear indicators of mutilation and harm. It appeared they’d a run a car over his physique after having shot him,” Mohammad mentioned, sharing photographic proof that has been reviewed by Al Jazeera.
‘Revenge killings and mass executions’
The grievance to the ICC included related particulars extracted from unbiased medical stories. “After his killing, his physique was mutilated, together with being run over by a heavy car in public. His physique revealed marks of brutal torture and 12 bullet entry and exit factors. These have been acquired after his seize, as his bulletproof jacket has no bullet marks,” the grievance acknowledged.
One other tribal elder from Kandahar who’s aware of the case, and who additionally wished to be nameless, added that the Taliban’s irreverence in direction of the lifeless was not unusual.
“In our district, they’d killed authorities officers outdoors their homes and their our bodies have been mendacity on the highway for days. They wouldn’t let anybody clear them. Individuals weren’t allowed to go away their houses and feared retribution,” he mentioned, referring to revenge killings and mass executions that have been additionally documented by Human Rights Watch.
“It was very disturbing how they’d disrespected his physique. He was a Muslim, however he was Indian, and a journalist, and so they killed him,” Mohammad added, shaken by the reminiscence.
The grievous nature of the homicide of a journalist – who’re speculated to be protected by worldwide legal guidelines even in struggle zones – has prompted the household to hunt justice from the worldwide courts, Singh mentioned.
“From a number of accounts, it’s clear he was tortured and killed as a result of he was a journalist and an Indian. These acts and this killing represent not solely a homicide but in addition against the law towards humanity and a struggle crime,” the lawyer mentioned, explaining that the household’s grievance seeks to deliver the probe into Siddiqui’s homicide beneath a wider investigation of Taliban struggle crimes lately resumed by the ICC prosecutor.
“Final yr when the federal government fell, ICC prosecutor Karim AA Khan mentioned there isn’t any efficient authorities in Afghanistan, and as such, resumed struggle crime investigations which have been deferred on request of the previous authorities. And we wish to deliver this case into that course of, and apply strain to hunt justice for Danish,” he mentioned. Singh mentioned that because the Taliban seeks worldwide legitimacy, the group should face accountability for its previous actions.
“This was a global crime. And within the absence of rule of regulation in Afghanistan, the ICC has jurisdiction to research and take a look at the perpetrators of Danish’s homicide.”
The ICC grievance
The grievance identifies seven folks accused, together with unnamed native commanders, because the perpetrators of the homicide, in addition to the Taliban’s management.
Mullah Haibatullah Akhunzada, the Taliban supreme chief, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, deputy prime minister, and Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, minister of defence, have all been accused within the grievance.
“There may be felony legal responsibility based mostly on the idea of superior accountability for leaders who’re within the know, and there may be definitely little doubt that the Taliban chain of command knew about this, and did not punish the perpetrators of the crime,” Singh mentioned.
The Taliban didn’t reply to Al Jazeera’s request for touch upon the ICC grievance or on allegations made by Siddiqui’s household till this text was printed.
In an interview final yr, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid, who has additionally been named within the grievance, mentioned the Taliban was not conscious of how Siddiqui was killed.
“We’re sorry for Indian journalist Danish Siddiqui’s loss of life. We remorse that journalists are coming into struggle zones with out intimation to us,” he had instructed CNN News18.
In the meantime, the Siddiqui household is beneath no illusions that this can be a easy journey.
“We all know it is a lengthy journey on the trail now we have taken however it’s our ethical obligation and accountability,” Omar Siddiqui, Danish’s brother, mentioned on behalf of his dad and mom.
“It is going to additionally spotlight the hazards that journalists are going through within the battle zones, bringing throughout tales that will not be coated by the media in any other case,” Siddiqui mentioned.
“We hope that justice can be served, and Danish’s contributions to exhibiting the ache and struggling of the folks can be recognised, and encourage others to stay steadfast towards injustices all over the place,” he added.