Eleven UK soldiers face war crimes trial

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by MrPVRd, May 29, 2005.

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  1. From the Independent


    This story is also mentioned in the Sunday Telegraph, with Patrick Mercer (Tory MP) calling the prosecutions "politically motivated".

    I hope the accused have access to the best possible legal advice. Let's see some senior MoD faces - and maybe even Bliar and Goldsmith - summoned to give evidence!

  2. We've shot ourselves in the foot over this, by our insistence on trying Commanders from the various Balkans factions for crimes committed by their subordinates which they had no previous knowledge of. No wonder the USA is declining to participate in the International Criminal Court (or whatever it's called).

    If this goes on, it will be possible to indict decision makers at all levels of command, presumably including the political. Tony Blair will need to be careful where he takes his holidays in future, unless he feels like getting 'Pinocheted'.
  3. Ok if wrong doings are going on, let the law have them, but when are we going to see prison officers/police et al with their bosses on trial for deaths in their custody?

    HMF in Iraq are a safe bet for the politico's to let go to the scrapheap without much consequence effecting them.

    If the officers are going to be held accountable, so therefore must not the government as their bosses?

    c_c now heading back out of current affairs...
  4. What evidence links Slobodan Milosevic and his minions? Was there a smoking gun memo that said "ethnically cleanse (ie murder and displace) Kosovars, Croats and Bosnians"?

    The atrocities of the Balkans and the incidents in US/UK custody cannot be compared.

    However, the same investigative process must apply. Questions have been asked as to how much Bliar (and others) knew about interrogation abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Bliar gave an answer to Parliament that was in all probability misleading, as to the extent of his knowledge.

    Bliar is also the authority for military action. As the lickspittle Eric "William" Joyce pointed out, the prerogative power of the sovereign to initiate military action has devolved to the prime minister. Clare Short's bill would change this and require a parliamentary vote. So, at the top, the responsibility belongs to one man.

    Incidentally, the back page of the Sunday Torygraph claims that the Wicked Witch is likely to leave Matrix Chambers, because of friction with other lawyers who firmly believe that Bliar should be in the dock! :twisted:
  5. I don't know what the burden of proof is regarding de facto responsibility for alleged war crimes. As MrPVRd said, if there is physical evidence of an order to carry out an action that is considered to be a war crime, then that is one thing. If there is merely an argument that the superior NCOs and Officers bear responsibility for the actions of their juniors simply because they are 'up' the chain of command, then there is an argument that Bliar should be in the dock with them.

    Further to Chickenpunk's comment on Pinochet; Amnesty International has commented thus on the case of trying former Heads of State for war crimes:
    See here for the full article.

    Chickenpunk (or anyone else who actually KNOWS the answer!) With reference to the "I was only following orders" defence, can a junior (OR or Officer) request a written order if they are unhappy with an order that they are given verbally?
  6. Actually they have a legal responsibility to disobey any illegal orders that they are given, something which is considerably easier said than done. It is also fair to say that any commander who is unclear about the orders that they are given must seek clarification before attempting to put them into practise.

    The real issue here seems to be that there is an extension of the concept of command responsibility for war crimes beyond what was practised at Nuremburg and the other post-WW2 processes: i.e., that Commanders must take responsibility for orders that they give, and that subordinates must take responsibility for carrying out orders, whether illegal or legal. As I understand it, the precedent has now been set, as the result of the Hague process, for Commanders to be prosecuted for the actions of their subordinates, even if they were not following orders or were acting against orders; and also that Commanders can now be prosecuted if they fail to take action against subordinates who they believe have committed war crimes.

    In some respects, one can see the point of this but at the same time, it is quite evident that it's going to cause great problems in the future conduct of military operations because it seems to ignore the issue of 'the fog of war'. On a slightly different tangent, it also incentivises politicians to get their military subordinates under investigation ASAP as soon as any allegations arise, no matter how trivial, because it gets them off the hook. Great for morale.
  7. The Belgians have passed an astonishing law that allows them to indict anyone, anywhere for human rights abuses and war crimes. It's political grandstanding, of course. Belgium couldn't enforce a law regulating the temperature of waffles in my opinion.

    However, as CP points out, Blair et. al need to be a little bit wary: one lefty lawyer in Brussels could lay an information (or the Belgian equivalent) and voila! Blair's collar felt. Embarrassing.

    Of course, it's a case of physician heal thyself: Belgian's criminal justice system is a disgrace.

  8. As I recall from QRs, if presented with an order you believe to be illegal, you can question it. If the order is reiterated, then it must be obeyed.

    I believe that there is a grey area between this QR and the Geneva Conventions, UK criminal law etc. This may be to do with a perception that a scenario may exist where the Geneva Conventions etc have no validity, or with a desire to ensure that the system of military obedience is given primacy. Also, an order may be perceived as illegal even if it is not and the ordered party may be incorrect.

    In a situation where an order is illegal, and it it questioned and reiterated, then the ordered party presumably has the choice of refusing the order and exposing themselves to sanction under military law, or obeying the order with the perceived risk of a criminal prosecution. This may not be as clear-cut as "execute that man, Bloggs" and is likely to have manifested itself as "put a bag over that man's head, Bloggs".

    If evidence of abuse has been presented to the command chain (for example, complaints from British Foreign Office ( :roll: ) officers at Guantanamo Bay or from service personnel at Abu Ghraib) and this information has been ignored, discarded or suppressed, then the command chain would surely be complicit.
  9. That's not something I was ever taught and is, in practise, unworkable. If I ordered a soldier to cut his own ear off, he would quite likely refuse to do so. If I reiterated the order, he would still refuse to do it. I can then charge him with disobeying a direct order to which his defence would be, 'It was an illegal order' and I have no doubt whatsoever that his defence would be accepted and I would be the person who ultimately came out of it worst. The same would be true, I hope, if I ordered my soldiers to burn down a Northern Irish village (say Cullaville) and bayonet the occupants. However often I reiterate an illegal order, it doesn't make it legal and my subordinates are under no obligation to obey it.
  10. The orders framework is not only provided by QRs, but by other rules and procedures such as taught under the heading of the law of armed conflict. and, for example, health and safety legislation that devolves responsibility the CO.

    I probably mangled what I was trying to say, which is that QRs themselves do not provide cast-iron mechanism for refusing an order perceived to be illegal. It is nearly a year since I had the pleasure of glancing at QRs and I cannot now recall if the QR in question refers to the issuer of the order or the command chain, with regard to any questioning the order. I suspect that any grey area is deliberate and is designed so that supporting legislation (LOAC stuff, H&S stuff) could be disregarded as and when required, or so that the obedience of orders retains its primacy. Naturally, any scenario in which this happens is beyond my imagination, but probably not beyond the mind of Donald Rumsfeld, for example.

    It is entirely correct to point out that anyone ordering his troops to cut off their own ears or to burn a village will certainly find themselves being disarmed and restrained pending the arrival of medical or police help!
  11. Read in another of today's papers (forget which) that doing things this way will allow for all of those in the chain being brought to justice - officers and all. If this is so, then it is an improvement on what we have seen before where the tom gets done but the brass get told they were maybe a bit over keen.
  12. I dont know about any of you but i 've been in several platoons who would jump at the chance of burning a village down if ordered too .The idea that private soldiers have a deep felt moral compass is dubious
  13. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1194893,00.html

    It is a very interesting moment. Who is this leutenant Mike. Were the soldiers punished for attempt to steal money? Is story om mr.Mousa true?

    Why does this investigation require so much time?
  14. "... slapped them and confiscated their weapons ..."

    This just doesn't ring true to me. Screamed the word f@ck a lot and had them marched away by a SNCO is fine, a quick punch and a boot up the arrse maybe, but slapping and making a pile of rifles ? It sounds like the sort of thing the Iraqi army under Saddam would do. And if you were an Iraqi who'd been approached by some bloodsucking British lawyer looking to drum up business it's just the sort of thing you'd make up to oblige and get some free cash from HMG.

    And how come this chap got let in anyway ? Retired police officer or not, if a bunch of squaddies were looting the place he'd have been told "f@ck off you camel shagging c@nt" and f@cked off at the high port.

    Or am I being too cynical ?
  15. So the CO may be for the high jump for what his troops may have done.
    Frieghtning, but fair after all he trained them.
    This case opens a can of worms, just how far up the chain of command goes responsibility for the actions of troops on the ground, assuming they are found guilty?
    A Brit officer slapping his troops in the face ! Gobsmacked er sorry I do not beleive it.
    This case stinks, from the top to the bottom.
    Be nice to think Justice will prevail.