War criminals & lawsuits


• It was reported in May 2003 that lawsuits were filed in Belgium against General Tommy Franks, the US commander, for war crimes in Iraq, including use of cluster bombs (causing civilian casualties) and bombing essential civilian infrastructure: alleged breaches of Geneva conventions.

A special Belgian law allows charges to be brought regardless of where the alleged crimes took place. The US government was outraged by the charges, and the Belgian government hastily amended the law and denounced the lawyer who filed the case.


• It was also reported in May 2003 that Tony Blair was to be charged as a war criminal by the Greek Bar Association before the International Criminal Court (ICC). Dimitris Paxinos, president of the lawyers' association, told the BBC that Blair would be charged with "crimes against humanity and war crimes." Bush escapes being charged, as the US is not a signatory to the ICC.


• Adam Ingram, the UK Armed Forces government minister, admitted in a BBC interview that UK forces dropped cluster bombs in civilian areas. Richard Lloyd, director of the charity Landmine Action, said the admission proved the UK government knowingly breached Geneva Conventions. (Independent, 30/5/03)

• In an apparent update to the above, it was reported that legal action against Tony Blair and the UK government, for "crimes against humanity in Iraq", was taken (on 28/7/03) at the International Criminal Court in Hague, by the Athens Bar Association (ABA). This concerns 22 war crimes, breaching the UN charter and the Geneva Conventions, including the killing of civilians and human rights violations. The ABA claimed it had strong evidence and was seeking the indictment of Blair, but there were several hurdles to clear (including, presumably, political ones) before the case proceeded.