Tony Blair will not be investigated and put on trial for war crimes, but British soldiers could be, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has stated.
The ICC says it will closely examine the 2.3 million word Chilcot report for evidence of war crimes committed by British forces. Lawyers at the court have ruled out investigating Mr Blair, saying the “decision by the UK to go to war in Iraq falls outside the Court’s jurisdiction.”
Sir John Chilcot’s long-awaited report on the Iraq War will be published on Wednesday.
Astonishingly, the ICC said its “preliminary examination” into British soldiers comes after “human rights lawyers” have made claims of abuse on behalf of Iraqi alleged victims.
In an official statement to the Telegraph, the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC said: “We will take note of the Chilcot report when released in the context of its ongoing preliminary examination work concerning Iraq/UK.
“A preliminary examination is not an investigation but a process aimed at determining whether reasonable basis exist to open an investigation.”
Grieving families of soldiers killed in Iraq have responded furiously to the decision, as they blame Mr Blair for engineering the war.
The ICC prosecutor’s office said the ICC was looking at introducing a “crime of aggression” which would cover illegal invasions but that “has not yet crystalised and in any event, will not apply retroactively”.
Roger Bacon, whose son was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2005 slammed the ICC’s position. Speaking to the Telegraph, he told the newspaper: “It is outrageous. It is double standards. These soldiers have gone out to do their best for us and here they are being hounded and yet the guy who took them there is not being looked at. That is completely wrong and disgusting.”
The retired police officer added: “It is bad enough the ICC are examining these allegations of abuse in the first place but to use the Chilcot report to further their investigation does not seem right at all particularly if they are not going to look at Blair.”
Reg Keys, whose son was one of six Royal Military Police slaughtered in cold blood in 2003 said: “The ICC should be using the Chilcot report as a basis for a legal action against Tony Blair not as ammunition against British soldiers for alleged abuse.” Mr Keys stood for election against Tony Blair in 2005.
The Chilcot report is expected to be strongly critical of Mr Blair’s role in launching the Iraq War, which many critics believe was illegal. It is thought the report will likely say that Mr Blair and his government misled the public over the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.