Under What Conditions May Belligerents Be Acquitted of the Crime of Attacking an Ambulance?

Posted: 9 Jul 2008

Date Written: May 2008

Abstract

The author discusses a decision handed down in 2007 by an Italian military court concerning the firing by Italian troops on an Iraqi ambulance in 2004, at Nassiriyah, resulting in the killing of four civilians. The court held that the action was covered by the defence of putative special military necessity and consequently acquitted the two defendants. The author argues that the accurate basis on which to exclude criminal culpability, both under Italian law and international criminal law, could be the excuse of putative self-defence. He also raises the issue of whether in that case the servicemen behaved negligently in acting in the belief that the ambulance was likely to be a car-bomb. The author then discusses the question of compensation to civilians for violations of international humanitarian law, regardless of whether such violations entail the criminal liability of the perpetrators.

Suggested Citation

Cassese, Antonio, Under What Conditions May Belligerents Be Acquitted of the Crime of Attacking an Ambulance? (May 2008). Journal of International Criminal Justice, Vol. 6, Issue 2, pp. 385-397, 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1157226 or http://dx.doi.org/mqn027

Antonio Cassese (Contact Author)

University of Florence ( email )

Piazza di San Marco, 4
Florence, 50121
Italy

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