Disturbing acts of political vigilante justice

by Frank Elbe, former German Ambassador

The poison attack of Salisbury is a horrible crime. Whoever is responsible for this infamous assassination deserves the contempt of the world community. The immediate clarification of the crime is required. There can be no consideration for the possible perpetrator. Where clarification is required, however, the Western world is being carried away to disturbing acts of political vigilante justice. It already imposes penalties on a suspected delinquent without even being able to be sure of his perpetration. All fingers point to Russia, partly to Putin personally. […]
The passion with which the Western world expresses solidarity with Britain is already irrational. It covers up a lack of awareness. Worse still, it wants us to believe that coordination processes in the EU and NATO can take the place of evidence. This amounts to patronising the citizen. His right to form opinions on elementary, even existential developments of future security deserves more respect. He is entitled to plausible information. […]
One of the few publicly known documents relied on by the British government to denounce Russia being responsible for the attack is the judgement of the Royal Court of Justice of 22 March 2018. The London judgment does not contain any indication of Russian perpetration as the British government intends to believe. It is limited to the statement that the poison is a Novichok substance or a closely related one. This means that the poison has not been accurately identified. It is not said at all that the poison was produced in the Soviet Union.
In the 1980s, I was negotiator for the convention of the ban of chemical weapons at the Geneva Conference on Disarmament; I was also chairman of the Subcommittee on Verification. I cannot understand how the analysis of a neurotoxin necessarily leads to the perpetrator of an attack. […]
There are three categories of deadly nerve gases: Sarin, VX and Novichok – the latter was developed in the seventies in the former Soviet Union. Sarin accidentally was discovered in 1939 by the German chemist Schrader during the research of a pesticide. The structural formulas of the toxins are widely known, even accessible on the Internet.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the inventories of Novichok have been disposed of by American chemical weapons experts at the request of the Uzbek government. It is noteworthy that Novichok was well known as a neurotoxin for a long time. It was subsequently further explored in Russia, the USA and England, but was not declared in the Chemical Weapons Convention. […] As a supertoxic-lethal chemical substance, Novichok has obviously gone on a long journey. […]
Until clarification of further facts, political restraint in recriminations and penalties is required. This results from respect to our own value system, according to which the imposition of penalties without sufficient determination of guilt is inadmissible. From Article 26 (1) of the German Basic Law can be derived a directly applicable requirement for everyone to refrain from acts that are appropriate and intended to disturb the peaceful coexistence of nations. Unjustified suspicions are covered by this ban. The expulsion of intelligence personnel is not a violation of international law, but it has the character of an unfriendly act in this situation, which as a peace-disturbing act, according to Article 26 (1) of the Basic Law, would be unconstitutional.
The current situation is extremely dangerous because it contains the seed of a break in normal relationship with Russia and thus the collapse of the new European order created after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Some Western countries long for Russia’s isolation. That can’t be a German goal.    •

Source: RT Deutsch from 30.3.2018 (excerpt)

(Translation Current Concerns)