UK High Court blocks Tony Blair prosecution over Iraq war

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London, July 31 (IANS) The High Court here on Monday blocked a bid by a former Chief of Staff of the Iraqi Army to bring a private prosecution against former Prime Minister Tony Blair over the Iraq War.

General Abdul Wahed Shannan Al Rabbat accused Blair of committing a “crime of aggression” by invading Iraq in 2003 to overthrow Saddam Hussein, the Guardian reported.

No such crime exists in England and Wales and the court ruled there was “no prospect” of the case succeeding.

The General wanted to prosecute Blair and two other key ministers at that time — Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Attorney General Lord Goldsmith.

Last year, Westminster Magistrates’ Court had turned down Al Rabbat’s bid to bring private prosecution, said the report.

He then sought a judicial review in an attempt to get the Supreme Court — the UK’s highest court — to overturn a 2006 House of Lords ruling that there is no such crime as the crime of aggression under the law of England and Wales.

However, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the Lord Chief Justice, along with another judge dismissed the General’s application, saying there was “no prospect” of the case succeeding.

The UK’s Attorney General had earlier intervened in the case, urging the High Court to block the challenge on the grounds that it was “hopeless”.

Reacting to the ruling, a spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office said the case had raised “important issues about the scope of the criminal law”.

“It should be for Parliament, and not the courts, to create new criminal offences. This principle was upheld when the House of Lords ruled in 2006 that the ‘crime of aggression’ does not exist in English law.

“In this legal challenge, we argued that this remains the case today and the courts agreed.”

In 2003, Britain joined the US-led coalition to overthrow Saddam Hussein after then US President George W. Bush and Blair accused Iraq of possessing weapons of mass destruction.

Last year, the UK’s Iraq War inquiry, led by John Chilcot, ruled the invasion had not been the “last resort” presented to MPs and the public.

His report ruled Blair had overstated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

Michael Mansfield QC, appearing for Al Rabbat, argued that the report justified the prosecution of Blair. Speaking last year, former Labour Prime Minister Blair apologised to the families of those killed in the 2003 Iraq War, but insisted he did what he thought was the “right thing” at the time.

–IANS

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