by The Independent (London) –
ATHENS — On July 28, British Prime Minister Tony Blair was accused of war crimes including genocide, as a dossier of 22 alleged incidents involving British troops in Iraq was lodged with a new international court in The Hague.
The complaint, brought by Greek lawyers, also mentions Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, Geoff Hoon, the Secretary of State for Defence, Adam Ingram, the Armed Forces Minister, and five others, including the Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Mike Jackson.
Members of the Athens Bar Association delivered their dossier in person yesterday with the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno Ocampo.
The court issued a statement saying: “The Office of the Prosecutor handed a written letter acknowledging receipt of this communication to the members of the Association and will review the content of the communication and the dossier.”
The Athens Bar Association argues that the war in Iraq breached international treaties such as the Charter of the United Nations, the Geneva Conventions and the ICC’s own Statute. Zoe Konstantopoulou, a member of the committee that drafted the complaint, said: “We believe the court will live up to its mandate and take up a case which is under its jurisdiction.”
She said allegations include three categories of offences: crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. The British Government has always argued that the invasion of Iraq was in accordance with international law.
In any event, the court in The Hague is unlikely to hear any case against British politicians or officials. Under its procedures, the prosecutor must first decide whether there is a case to answer. Were he to conclude that Mr. Blair should face legal proceedings, the British judicial authorities would be informed and given the option of taking over the case. Only if they refused to do so would the ICC start proceedings.