Felicity Arbuthnot | 3 July 2016
The International Criminal Court (ICC) will not prosecute Tony Blair but Parliament could
“But then, once in a lifetime the longed for tidal wave of justice can rise up,and hope and history rhyme. Believe that a further shore is reachable from here. Believe in miracles.” (Seamus Heaney, 1939-2013, “The Cure at Troy.”)
In an astonishing revelation, the Daily Telegraph has established that Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague will examine the Chilcot Inquiry Report in to the Iraq invasion – due to be released on Wednesday 6th July:
“ … for evidence of abuse and torture by British soldiers but have already ruled out putting Tony Blair on trial for war crimes …” (1)
Whilst the Report is “expected to strongly criticize” Blair’s role in the illegal invasion:
“It means individual soldiers could be prosecuted for war crimes but not Mr. Blair.”
This, in spite of the fact that it is now confirmed that Blair’s commitment to George W. Bush’s determination to invade Iraq was made personally, a year before the assault, at a meeting at Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, without the knowledge of Parliament. The ICC however, whilst considering the introduction of a crime of aggression, thus brining illegal invasions in to their legal remit – to which Bush and Blair’s actions would seemingly be relevant – would “not apply retrospectively.”
Thus, currently the:
“decision by the UK to go to war in Iraq falls outside the Court’s jurisdiction.”
Whilst any British or US soldier responsible for the litany of appalling crimes committed in Iraq should be pursued relentlessly – which has broadly been less than the case to date – the ultimate responsibility for the whole tragic disaster for which both countries’ leaders and military brass will surely be haunted throughout history, lies with those at the political top. Their blatant mistruths led to the invasion and its bloody, inhuman, ignorant, culturally clueless, unending aftermath. Of the ICC decision, Reg Keys, who stood against Blair in the 2005 election and whose twenty year old son, Tom was killed in Iraq said: “It makes me very angry. They don’t call him Teflon Tony for nothing.”
However, Anthony Charles Linton Blair, QC, will still have to spend a lot of time looking over his shoulder. In what the Daily Mail describes as: “a dramatic attempt to impeach Tony Blair for misleading Parliament over the Iraq war”, a cross party group of MPs are building support: “for an attempted prosecution of the former Prime Minister”, after Wednesday’s publication of the Inquiry’s findings. (2)
The MPs are using an ancient parliamentary power, unused since 1806 to bring Blair to trial in Parliament. The groups charge is that:
“he should be impeached over allegations (that) he breached his constitutional duties as Premier.”
His pivotal claims regarding Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction – which, he had asserted, could reach the West “in 45 minutes” had been “contradicted by his own intelligence (agencies) assessments”, points out the Mail. A parliamentary source told the Mail: “Impeachment is on our minds, but we will need to digest the Report.
There is definitely a feeling that Blair must be properly held to account for his actions in the run up to what was a disastrous war.” Not so much a war but the near annihilation of a sovereign nation without even the minimal wherewithal of self defense, many will reflect. If the impeachment attempt is approved by MPs, the defendant is delivered the top parliamentary ceremonial official, known as Black Rod, ahead of a trial.
“A simple majority is required to convict, at which point a sentence can be passed, which could, in theory, involve Mr. Blair being sent to prison.”
The MPs are not alone in their potential plans. Whatever the Chilcot Report may lack in judgmental findings, it will deliver to relevant legal experts a wealth of potential for civil litigation against all responsible for crimes against sovereignty, humanity, the peace – and what many will argue has been genocide.
The Chilcot Inquiry is 2.6 million words. Many figures show that between the embargo, the 1991 desert slaughter, the silent holocaust of the residual deaths from the Depleted Uranium weapons (radioactive residue 4.5 million years) and the 2003 invasion – massacres ongoing -that may represent less than one word for every Iraqi death.