Greek lawyers to sue Blair for war crimes

The Athens Bar Association plans to sue British Prime Minister Tony Blair for his role in the Iraq war at the International Criminal Court, according to Dimitris Paxinos, head of the Greek lawyers’ association.

    Blair's office declined to comment

    Paxinos said on Monday that within a week a legal case will be filed, calling the attacks by the United States and British forces against Iraq "crimes against humanity and war crimes".

    The Bar association lists a number of alleged violations of international laws, including the United Nations Charter, the Geneva Conventions, the Hague Convention and the International Criminal Court's statute.
     
    Paxinos highlighted the fact that American officials can not be prosecuted as the US is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court's (ICC) founding treaty.

    The association, he said, is “quietly confident” that the evidence compiled by the lawyers is strong, adding that the case will test the ICC's credibility.
     
    ICC tribunal

    The ICC is a recently created tribunal for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. It was formally inaugurated at The Hague in March.
     
    Eighty nine countries signed up to the treaty creating the court, but the United States declined to join.

    The court has not officially began work yet, though last month it appointed an Argentine lawyer, Luis Moreno Ocampo, to be its first prosecutor.
     

    Philippe Kirsch
    ICC Chairman

     

    A spokeswoman for the court said that after Ocampo is sworn in on 16 June, the court is likely to begin considering the association’s case.
     
    "We have received more than 200 communications from different parts of the world," she said, outlining public interest.

    Reaction

    The British Prime Minister's office has declined to comment on the announcement, but according to political analyst Panos Polyzoidis in Athens, the Greek government is unlikely to publicly support the lawyers' move as the public's strong anti-war feeling cuts across party lines.

    The news may also be untimely for the British as an inquiry in on into alleged war crimes by Colonel Tim Collins of the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment.

    Col. Collins too is accused of breaching the Geneva Conventions.

    Complaints against the colonel were raised by Major Re Biastre, a US army reservist, who accused him of maltreating prisoners, pistol whipping a Baath party official, firing shots to stop looters and frightening people he was questioning.
     
    The completed investigation report, examined by the British Army itself and not the ICC, will be forwarded within the coming weeks to his commanding officer and the army prosecuting authority for a decision on whether disciplinary action is necessary.


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