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North Korea warned of legal action

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GENEVA – A U.N. panel warned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Monday that he may be held accountable for orchestrating widespread crimes against civilians in the secretive Asian nation, ranging from systematic executions to torture, rape and mass starvation.

It is unusual for a U.N. report to directly implicate a nation’s leader. But in a letter accompanying a yearlong investigative report, the chairman of a three-member U.N. commission of inquiry, retired Australian judge Michael Kirby, directly warned Kim that international prosecution is needed “to render accountable all those, including possibly yourself, who may be responsible for crimes against humanity.”

“Even without being directly involved in crimes against humanity, a military commander may be held responsible for crimes against humanity committed by forces under the commander’s effective command and control,” Kirby wrote.

He urged Kim to take “all necessary and reasonable measures” to stop crimes against humanity and ensure that they are properly investigated and prosecuted. Kirby added, however, there was no indication the North Korea would do so.

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