High Court blocks Tony Blair prosecution over Iraq War

The High Court has blocked a bid by a former chief of staff of the Iraqi army to bring a private prosecution against former Prime Minister Tony Blair over his role in the Iraq War.

The lord chief justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, and another senior judge, Mr Justice Ouseley, said on Monday that there was no crime of aggression in English law under which the former prime minister could be charged.

General Abdul Wahed Shannan Al Rabbat has accused Mr Blair of committing a “crime of aggression” by invading Iraq in 2003 to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

The general wanted to prosecute Mr Blair and two other key ministers at the time – Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, and Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General.

He lives in Muscat, Oman, does not possess a passport and travel to the UK.

His lawyers 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 a ruling by the House of Lords in 2006 that there is no such crime as the crime of aggression under the law of England and Wales.

Westminster Magistrates Court refused to issue summonses in November last year on the grounds the ex-ministers had immunity from legal action, and in any event the current Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC, would have to give consent.

The Attorney General intervened in the case and his legal team urged Lord Thomas and Mr Justice Ouseley to block the general’s legal challenge on the grounds that it was “hopeless” and unarguable because the crime of aggression is not recognised in English law.

The UK was part of a US-led coalition which invaded Iraq after George W Bush and Mr Blair accused Hussein of possessing weapons of mass destruction and having links to terrorists.

by Berk Bektas

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