Blocking Tony Blair's prosecution for Iraq War 'an attack on democracy'

Posted August 01, 2017

A United Kingdom court on Monday rejected a former Iraqi general's bid to bring a private prosecution against former British Prime Minister Tony Blair over the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The former Iraqi soldier wanted to prosecute Blair and two other key British ministers at the time - the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, and the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith.

The general claimed Blair was guilty of a "crime of aggression" by invading Iraq in 2003, and was seeking a judicial review to overturn a 2006 House of Lords ruling that such an offence does not constitute a crime under English law.

The judges, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the Lord Chief Justice, and Justice Ouseley, dismissed the general's application, on the grounds there was no chance of the case succeeding.

On behalf of the claimant, a general of the Iraqi army, it was argued that the crime of aggression should be considered as part of the domestic common law, having been incorporated at least since 1945 when the International Military Tribunal at Nuremburg commenced the prosecution of Nazi war criminals in the wake of World War II.

A recent supreme court case entitled Jones had ruled there was a no crime of aggression in English law, Thomas said.

Mansfield stated that the prosecution of Blair would be justified in light of the Chilcot Inquiry's finding that Iraq's then-leader Saddam Hussein did not pose an imminent threat to the interests of the UK.

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He said that no prosecution could take place before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the crime of aggression committed before June 26, 2017.

Former British prime minister Tony Blair.

The two High Court judges acknowledged that "crime of aggression" charges had recently been incorporated into global law, but stressed that these did not apply retroactively.

It also concluded that peaceful alternatives to war had not been exhausted and that the war in Iraq was not necessary.

The former army general's lawyers said in a statement on Monday that the judgment "sets a risky precedent in times of global insecurity" and called on parliament to enact a law making accountability clear in the future.

The former British prime minister's decision to join the US-led invasion of Iraq tainted his legacy of 10 years in office and still haunts him over 14 years after the war.

Blair's arguments for going to war were "based on flawed intelligence and assessments" that "were not challenged [and] should have been," the report said. It is for parliament and parliament alone to make the decision, ' the judgment states.