Tony Blair can not be prosecuted over Iraq war, High Court rules

Tony Blair can not be prosecuted over Iraq war, High Court rules

A former Iraqi army chief of staff has failed in his bid to prosecute Tony Blair for his role in the Iraq war.

General Abdulwaheed Shannan Al Rabbat's lawyers had argued that Mr Blair and former foreign secretary Jack Straw should be arrested for "crimes of aggression". They asked London's High Court for permission to seek judicial review in an attempt to get the Supreme Court, now the highest court in the land, to overturn it.

But Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the Lord Chief Justice, and Mr Justice Ouseley refused permission saying there was no prospect of the case ever succeeding.

The House of Lords decided in the 2006 case of "R v Jones", which also concerned the Iraq War, that although there was a crime of aggression under customary worldwide law, there was no such crime under English law.

The UK court accepted that prosecution at the ICC is not possible at the present time, but maintained that prosecution is also not possible in England and Wales where the crime does not exist in law.

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It added that the UK's involvement in Iraq was based on a false pretext that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

At the opening of the Nuremburg Trials, the British attorney general, Sir Hartley Shawcross QC, led the British prosecution and condemned the waging of aggressive war in the strongest terms, as the supreme worldwide crime.

"It should be for Parliament, and not the courts, to create new criminal offences", the spokesperson said.

As established in the earlier House of Lords decision in Jones, the High Court confirmed the crime of aggression is not a crime in domestic law, and as such, no prosecution can be brought in domestic courts.

On the national and global stage the failure of the British government to give tangible commitment to the prosecution of the crime of aggression undermines the rule of law.

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The decision effectively blocks any further attempts by the former Iraqi general, who lives in Oman, to take legal action against Blair.

Following the release of the Chilcot report, Blair denied that Britain's participation in the war was a mistake, but expressed his "sorrow, regret and apology" for mistakes made during the planning and conduct of the war.

However, an inquiry into the Iraq war, led by John Chilcot, concluded that "the invasion was not prompted by the aggression of another country".

"It does not say there was an unlawful war or crime of aggression".

But in a brief hearing, the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas, said that "there is no crime of aggression under United Kingdom domestic law and there is no prospect of the supreme court reversing that decision".

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