Noam Shalit Turns to French Court

PARIS - Noam Shalit, father of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, filed a suit in Paris District Court yesterday asking the French justice system to investigate and take action against those who are illegally holding his son, a dual French-Israeli citizen.

The suit is being lodged against "persons unknown," but clearly identifies Hamas as those who kidnapped Gilad Shalit in June, 2006.

The complaint states that the kidnapping was accompanied by aggravating circumstances and that Gilad, who is today 24, may have "suffered from acts of torture or of barbarism."

In France, the courts are allowed to investigate felonies against French citizens overseas, as well as issue warrants and try the perpetrators, even if they are not French.

If a country or entity shields the perpetrator and fails to cooperate with the investigation, there are sanctions and other actions that can then be used as pressure on both the perpetrators and those who may be protecting them.

"We don't have any option of filing suit against the Hamas from Israel, so we are now going forward through the French system," Noam Shalit said. "I do not know yet what this will accomplish, but I can do nothing but try every avenue."

It is expected that within a few days a judge will be appointed to begin an investigation, said Patrick Klugman, one of the Shalit family's French lawyers.