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SNP MP bid to charge Blair with war crimes

#1
A call to have Tony Blair charged with war crimes was today backed by independent MSP Margo MacDonald.

The bid to have the Prime Minister stand trial for his handling of the Iraq war is being made by Mrs MacDonald's husband, ex-SNP MP Jim Sillars.

He has sent a 10,000-word document to the Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini outlining why he believes Mr Blair should face two charges in connection with the invasion in 2003.

Mr Sillars claimed he has been told by legal experts that the PM has a case to answer, even though similar attempts have failed in England.

"There can be no prosecution at the international criminal court because it doesn't have jurisdiction," he said.

"There is no chance of a special court being established by the United Nations as Britain and the US have the veto at the security council.

"There is no chance of a prosecution in England and Wales.

"But of course Scots law is an entirely different entity, an entirely different jurisdiction with different rules, procedures and instruments available to it."

He believes that the necessary powers to arrest and charge Mr Blair exist in Scotland, and has called on the Lord Advocate to investigate.

Mr Sillars said there is "overwhelming evidence" that Mr Blair is guilty of conspiracy to wage and of waging aggressive war.

The evidence includes official memos, the memoirs of weapons inspector Hans Blix and the Butler report.
 
#2
It's theoretically possible in international law since their argument for the use of force was so weak, but in reality they're never going to pin anything on the cnut.. :x
 
#4
Not quite as inplausable as it sounds:

If there is a prosecution of Tony Blair after he leaves office, it may arise either out of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, or out of torture allegations, probably at Guantanamo Bay, or connected to United Kingdom support for “extraordinary rendition”. In all probability, the charges would be made in some other European jurisdiction, under the laws of some other member of the European Union. That is why the Dabas case, though little noticed, is crucially important.

Full article here:

The Times: Bliar prosecuted.

Many people will think that the prosecution of Tony Blair is a remote risk; I do not, and nor, apparently, does Cherie Booth, who knows the law better than most people. One can remember the Pinochet extradition case, which was started by a Spanish judge, though the torture had taken place in Chile.

Channel Four`s "The Trial of Tony Blair" may be pretty close to the truth. I hope so.
 
#5
If it's "warcrimes" then international law recognises universal jurisdiction...i.e. any country in the world has the right to try the accused, but of course you are right, it depends on the domestic law of the country concerned, be it an EU member or not. There were several incidents of this in Belgium recently (came to nothing) the upshot of which was basically an agreement not to prosecute each others politicians (heads of government especially). Can't remember precise details but the catalyst was the fact that US politicians would refuse to have any dealings with the EU in Belgium (because they could be arrested!)...obviously with EU HQ being Brussels this was not good for business!

edited to ask, what was the Dabas case about? Rings a bell but I don't remember the fact and too lazy to look it up....

edited twice to apologise for being a mong..I see you have already provided the link. :oops:
 
#6
This isn't as far-fetched as it seems. Although the crime of "aggression" is not yet under the jurisdiction of the ICC, there are a few other war crimes that could be pinned on Bliar including support of rendition - the Italian courts (not the Italian government) are prosecuting various CIA spooks and their Italian stooges. Something similar could happen in Scotland, particularly if the SNP get anything on the rendition issue. The Times article of today indeed makes fascinating reading. Remember, he becomes a private citizen in a few weeks.

I do hope the SNP are playing softly-softly and will use the rendition issue and the seperate Scottish judiciary to get the lying evil sh!t bang to rights. :twisted:
 
#8
I actually heard Sillars being interviewed on R4 PM program tonight. He stated that what constitutes aggression will not be defined in the ICC until 2009 at the earliest if ever. However he said that under Scottish law you can prosecute an old crime and call it something new. He lost me at that stage and I was on the M25, looked on the website but couldn't find a link, it was a very impressive interview. I should clarify, it is not the SNP per se more an individual pursuit of Blair. He wants to prosecute Blair for murder, but called something else. Any legal experts out there?
 
#9
I stand corrected...(just dug out my text books to look it up!!) I was thinking of the ICJ (International Court of Justice) which does have jurisdiction for breaches of the UN Charter, i.e. aggression (Nicaragua Case) but that would only apply to a state and not to an individual for alleged 'crimes'...

Can't find anything about the ICC, but to be honest I haven't looked that hard either (I'm not that much of a spotter yet!)
 
#11
It isn't just aggression that Bliar etc should be twitchy about. I reckon one of the reason for the enthusiasm of prosecutors to go after soldiers is to try and forestall the upturning of the entire can of worms, as hinted at below. I'm not a lawyer (I would be supping champagne, sitting in my penthouse if I was :wink: ) but it doesn't look particularly good to me. Remember that detainees are not prisoners of war.

http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/legal/article2591496.ece

Human rights in Iraq: a case to answer

Revealed: How Lord Goldsmith advised Army chiefs to deny detainees 'full' legal protection

By Robert Verkaik, Law Editor

Published: 29 May 2007

The Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, is facing accusations that he told the Army its soldiers were not bound by the Human Rights Act when arresting, detaining and interrogating Iraqi prisoners.

Previously confidential emails, seen by The Independent, between London and British military head-quarters in Iraq soon after the start of the war suggest Lord Goldsmith's advice was to adopt a "pragmatic" approach when handling prisoners and it was not necessary to follow the " higher standards" of the protection of the Human Rights Act.

That, according to human rights lawyers, was tantamount to the Attorney General advising the military to ignore the Human Rights Act and to simply observe the Geneva Conventions. It was also contrary to advice given by the Army's senior lawyer in Iraq, who urged higher standards to be met.

Today, rights groups and experts in international law will call on the Government to disclose Lord Goldsmith's legal opinion, which they say could have helped create a culture of abuse of Iraqis by British soldiers.

Last month, the first British soldier convicted of a war crime was jailed for a year and dismissed from the Army after being convicted of mistreating Iraqi civilians, including the hotel worker Baha Mousa, who died of his injuries at the hands of British soldiers. In 2005, three British soldiers were jailed by a court martial in Germany after "trophy" photographs emerged, showing Iraqi detainees being abused at an aid centre called Camp Bread Basket. There are about 60 more allegations of abuse being prepared for legal claims by rights groups.

Last week, Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights wrote to the Government to ask for an "explanation" about the evidence of torture in the Baha Mousa court martial.

Andrew Dismore MP, chair of the committee, said: "We have asked the Ministry of Defence to explain what appear to be stark inconsistencies in the evidence presented to our committee about the use of inhuman and degrading interrogation techniques prohibited as long ago as 1972."

But emails sent just after the invasion indicate Lord Goldsmith's belief that British soldiers in Iraq were not bound by the Human Rights Act. The documents also show a wide differing of opinion between him and Lieutenant-Colonel Nicholas Mercer, the Army's most senior legal adviser on the ground, who wrote to say he felt "the ECHR would apply" to troops in Iraq.

On one occasion, Rachel Quick, the legal adviser to Permanent Joint Headquarters who had regularly sought and been given guidance from Lord Goldsmith on the treatment of Iraqi prisoners, wrote to Colonel Mercer giving her interpretation of the Attorney General's advice. His view, she said, "was that the HRA was only intended to protect rights conferred by the Convention and must look to international law to determine the scope of those rights".

Ms Quick went on say that the advice of the Attorney General, supported by Professor Christopher Greenwood [the barrister who advised Lord Goldsmith on the legality of the war], was that, in the circumstances, the HRA did not apply. "For your purposes," she wrote, "I would suggest this means no requirement for you to provide guidance on the application of the HRA. I hope this is clear."

Ms Quick, who in November 2003, was appointed OBE, added: "With regard to the detention of civilians - I will look at your documents in more detail and discuss with FCO, MoD legal advisers. Although my initial thoughts are you are trying to introduce UK procedures to a Geneva Convention IV context. Whilst this may be the perfect solution it may not be the pragmatic solution. Again we raised this issue with the AG and got a helpful steer on the procedures. I'll aim to try to produce guidance, taking into account their advice on the detention of civilians."

Such were the concerns of legal advisers on the ground over the Attorney General's views that the MoD arranged for the senior legal adviser at the Foreign Office, Gavin Hood, to visit Permanent Joint Headquarters to settle any worries. Crucially, the emails make clear Lord Goldsmith's legal opinion was not shared by Colonel Mercer, who contacted his superiors in London to ask for guidance after he had witnessed the hooding of 40 Iraqis at a British PoW camp in March. The men were all forced to kneel in the sun and had their hands cuffed behind their backs. Worried this could leave the soldiers vulnerable to prosecutions, he told the MoD that in his view soldiers should behave in accordance with the "higher standard" of the Human Rights Act.

But the response from the military's Permanent Joint Headquarters in Qatar was that Lord Goldsmith had told the MoD the human rights law did not apply and soldiers should simply observe the Geneva Conventions.

When Colonel Mercer said he disagreed with the Government's most senior law officer he was told that "perhaps you should put yourself up as the next Attorney General". Colonel Mercer also asked for a British judge to be flown out to oversee the procedures for the detention of Iraqi prisoners, but this also was blocked at a high level.

Colonel Mercer's interpretation of the law has since proved correct. Thirty months after he first raised his concerns during the Iraq conflict, the Court of Appeal ruled that British soldiers were bound by the Human Rights Act, which bans torture or degrading of prisoners.

The emails, part of court documents being prepared to support a judicial review in the High Court this year, reveal considerable disquiet among the military about the Attorney General's advice.

The documents show that as early as March 2003, the International Committee of the Red Cross had begun investigating complaints of possible war crimes by British soldiers at the same PoW camp in south-east Iraq that had prompted Colonel Mercer's original intervention. The Government was so worried about this that it flew out a political adviser from London to address the Red Cross's concerns about hooding and other practices.

International law

* Torture is defined by international law as any threat or use of severe pain, physical or mental, against an individual with the intention of obtaining a confession or other information. Under the UN Convention Against Torture, 40 states - including Britain - have agreed not to engage in such practices.

During military conflict the third and fourth Geneva Conventions protect prisoners of war and civilians who are held by soldiers. Torture is also defined as a war crime by the International Criminal Court, which describes it as the unlawful infliction of severe pain.

Many of the incidents of abuse committed by British soldiers on Iraqi civilians may fall outside the strict definition of torture under international law.

But under the European Convention of Human Rights, incorporated in the Human Rights Act 1998, there is no requirement that the threat or use of pain should be severe for an act to fall foul of the law.

Lord Goldsmith argued that because UK forces did not have full control of Iraq, the country was not part of its jurisdiction and therefore the Human Rights Act did not apply. He lost this argument when the Court of Appeal ruled that Iraqi civilians held in custody and the soldiers detaining them were subject to the Human Rights Act. The case is to be settled later this year by the House of Lords. If the Government loses then it is expected that full and independent inquiries will be held into the deaths, disappearances and torture of Iraqis by British soldiers.
 
#12
MrPVRd said:
It isn't just aggression that Bliar etc should be twitchy about. I reckon one of the reason for the enthusiasm of prosecutors to go after soldiers is to try and forestall the upturning of the entire can of worms, as hinted at below. I'm not a lawyer (I would be supping champagne, sitting in my penthouse if I was :wink: ) but it doesn't look particularly good to me. Remember that detainees are not prisoners of war.
Let's hope you're right..certainly seems to be a possibility in theory...

I'm not a lawyer either, I am a trainee though (with a view to going back to the green machine as an ALS rupert). I'm presently supping guiness and it's definitely not in a penthouse!!! :(
 
#13
Says a lot for British Govt when the Chiefs of Staff seek out their own legal advice on the eve of war. Hopefully one day we will see Goldsmith in the dock as well. 2 lines of legalise in support of the war??!!




Ex-Navy chief 'took private legal advice on Iraq'
By Kim Sengupta
Published: 11 June 2007
The head of the Royal Navy at the time of the Iraq invasion was so worried about the legality of the conflict that he sought his own private legal advice on justification for the war.

Admiral Sir Alan West, the First Sea Lord, approached lawyers to ask whether Navy and Royal Marines personnel might end up facing war crimes charges in relation to their duties in Iraq. The extraordinary steps taken by Sir Alan - which The Independent can reveal today - shows the high level of concern felt by service chiefs in the approach to war - concern that was not eased by the Attorney General's provision of a legal licence for the attack on Iraq.

The apprehension felt by the military commanders was highlighted at one meeting where General Sir Michael Jackson, the head of the Army, is reported to have said: "I spent a good deal of time recently in the Balkans making sure [the former Serb leader Slobodan] Milosevic was put behind bars. I have no intention of ending up in the cell next to him in The Hague."

In the approach to the 2003 invasion, Lord Boyce, the Chief of Defence Staff, insisted that the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, provide an unequivocal written assurance that the invasion was lawful. He eventually received a two-line note from Lord Goldsmith on 14 March 2003 confirming the supposed legality of the war. It has since emerged that the Attorney General had twice changed his views on the matter prior to that note.

Lord Goldsmith also wrote to Tony Blair on 14 March, stressing it was "essential" that "strong evidence" existed that Iraq was still producing weapons of mass destruction. The Prime Minister replied the next day, saying: "This is to confirm, it is indeed the Prime Minister's unequivocal view that Iraq is in further material breach of the obligations". The information he relied on for this had formed the basis of the now discredited Iraq dossier.

On 17 March, Mr Blair presented what was described as Lord Goldsmith's opinion, presented on one side of an A4 page, to the Cabinet. The following day, Parliament voted for war.

Sir Alan refused to comment on allegations that he had "gone private" to seek legal advice. However, a senior military source said: "The defence chiefs were aware of a rising degree of worry in all three services. Some of this has been passed to them through the padres. What was noticeable was the difference in attitude among the men and women compared to the Afghan war. There was genuine unease and it was the duty of the chiefs of staff, as the head of the services, to get clarification about whether they would be in breach of international law. There was also a degree of worry about the independence or otherwise of the government legal advice.

"Admiral West approached lawyers ... on whether the impending action over Iraq was justified. It was a personal decision on his part and he felt this was necessary because of his duty of care towards people serving under him. He and the other service chiefs did not walk blindly into Iraq, they asked all the questions they could under the circumstances and with the ever-present caveat that they could not stray into the field of politics. At the end they were given Lord Goldsmith's assurance. The rest, as they say, is history."

In the event, the advice Admiral West got from the lawyers was that the invasion could just about be justified due to Saddam Hussein's flouting of United Nations resolutions, although the question of how much time Iraq should be given to comply would have to be considered carefully.

In April 2005, Mr Blair made public the full legal advice he received from Lord Goldsmith. It ran to 13 pages. The Attorney General warned that other UN nations could take Britain to an international court and that opponents could have obtained a court injunction to stop the invasion.
 
#14
I've just finished a law degree and my lecturer in International law (whose speciality is Law of Armed Conflict and who has lectured the ALS) told us that two sets of advice existed (the first was never published) after the spams, on reading the first said, to quote him (the lecturer) "find another lawyer".

His personal opinion, shared by most international lawyers of all nationalities is that the argument for the use of force was "weak to say the least"...........and when you read it, it really is...

Edited....Before I get belt-fed, I'm not coming out as an anti-war liberal tw@t, I'm talking from a purely legal (academic) point of view.
 
#15
"...conspiracy to wage aggressive war and of waging aggressive war..."

Should be re-defigned as "wars of conquest" - ie the invasion of territory for the purpose of either it's incorportion in into a country ( Iraq in the Gulf War, Argentina in the Falklands) or colonisation. The Iraq was was neither, tin foil hats aside.
 
#16
parapauk said:
"...conspiracy to wage aggressive war and of waging aggressive war..."

Should be re-defigned as "wars of conquest" - ie the invasion of territory for the purpose of either it's incorportion in into a country ( Iraq in the Gulf War, Argentina in the Falklands) or colonisation. The Iraq was was neither, tin foil hats aside.
Shut up you fcukin muppet! There was not a hint of illegality about Op Corporate (Falklands). The Falklands are a British territory, there is no doubt about that whatsoever in international law. Even the UN backed the UK's right to self defence. There's also a fundamental principle called "self determination" which gives the Falkland Islanders the right to the government of their choice (100% British). What is it that you think makes it a 'conquest' or 'incorporation' (you actually mean annexation) anymore than it was from the point of view of the fcukin Spaniards in Argentina?

It's completely different from Iraq in every way. If you are or ever were in the British Army or HM Forces (which I very much doubt) then fcuk off and hang your head in shame for posting that boll0cks on the 25th anniversary of Coporate.

In fact either way, fcuk off you pr!ck.
 
#18
parapauk said:
You miss-understood, the ARGENTINIAN invasion was the war of conquest.
I was just about to say that it was perfectly clear from your post that you were referring to the Argentinian invasion of the Falklands. I thought that one of the skills gained by taking a law degree was the ability to understand the semantics of a line of text.
 

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