CJ Chivers of the New York Times and to a very limited extent Human Rights Watch (HRW) are now seriously engaging with the Human Rights Investigations probe into the cluster bombing of Misrata.
The first indication from HRW (after weeks of trying to elicit a direct response) was a tweet from the Mary Wareham:
In fact, the case against Gaddafi’s forces is not proven.
The Spanish government should release details of all licenses ever issued and actual exports for cluster bombs and munitions and the machinery to make them.
The export of cluster munitions and bombs is now illegal in Spain (although not incorporated into domestic legisalation) – the Spanish government should release details of all such exports in the past to prevent their use in the future.
HRI has been pressing for this and urges HRW to do likewise.
CJ Chiver’s follow-up article in the New York Times today provides a lot of color to his story and some interesting material but, on the face of it, little in the way of additional evidence as to who actually fired the munitions.
It is certainly the case that, under fire from loyalist forces, an assumption that these forces were responsible for the firing of the MAT-120 is a natural reaction, but he has yet to offer any proof – hopefully his next installment contains something substantial.
It is good that CJ Chivers has released new imagery of the MAT-120 including a sideview photo of the MAT-120, which may be useful to the investigation and to ascertain which weapons system was used and urge him and photographer Bryan Denton to release copies of ALL the photographs (preferably high resolution) they have taken in Misrata so that everyone can get a better view of the full panoply of munitions used by all sides in the battle.
22 June Update
Another update from the New York Times.
The article states that various Spanish officials are claiming that exports of the MAT-120 have been made to Libya.
According to the article, Ramon Muro Martinez, the Deputy Director General for Foreign Trade of Defense Materials and Dual Use Goods wrote to Mr Chivers saying:
One license to Lybia consisting of 5 cluster munitions for demonstration was issued in August 2006. The export took place in October 2006. There were two more licenses issued in December 2007 with a total amount of 1,050 cluster munitions. They were sent in March 2008.
According to the article:
In a follow-up e-mail on the same day, Mr. Martinez confirmed, to be absolutely clear, that the cluster munitions we were discussing were the MAT-120 rounds manufactured by Instalaza SA.
In addition CJ Chivers says that:
the ministry confirmed that the government of Libya had submitted an end-user certificate, or EUC, for MAT-120 rounds to the government of Spain
and that an email
from another ministry official, Ana Terreros Gomez, said that the “EUC issued by the Libya authorites was authenticated by the Spanish Embassy in Tripoli November 28th 2007.”
The Spanish government needs to produce a credible account of these matters, of course, and come clean on its whole record. They also need to actually provide some real evidence, not just on the MAT-120 but on the other cluster munitions which have gone AWOL as well.
Another update from the New York Times today (23 June)
A lot about HRI. Less of relevance to the investigation, unfortunately.
For the record:
1. HRI is entirely unconvinced about the Spanish officials claims in this matter and is still awaiting documentation requested weeks ago
2. HRI has shown the evidence presented by CJ Chivers regarding the MAT-120 and short stub case is mistaken.
3. Yes, HRI does frequently change its mind on the basis of the evidence received and analysis of it. That kind of happens in investigations.
4. We thank those who have provided useful information and evidence relevant to the Misrata and Spanish cluster bomb investigations and would urge those yet to reply to do so.
Update 19 July CJ Chivers is now back in Libya and producing some important work