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{UAH} Iraq war: judge to review Tony Blair prosecution ban

Frank Mujabi/ Moses Nekyon/Edward P'Ojim

We are watching this case playing out in the UK High Court withgreat interest. Michael Mansfield yesterday made one of the greatest legal presentations in the entire history pf English common law,  when he made a 5 hour non stop presentation to the court, He is seeking to set a precendent on the following:

1.That the crime of AGGRESSION has long been assimilated into English Common law as a WAR CIME since the Nuremberg  War Crimes trials after the second world war 
2. That Tony Blair does not enjoy any immunity from prosecution as a former head of state, as the crime of AGGRESSION is one of the few in the category of crimes in International law for which no immunity is available; the others being Genocide, War Crimes, and Crimes Against Humanity.

If you recall, the UK Supreme Court ( as House Of Lords) also set the precedent in Immunity Cases in the 2001 General Pinochet case in a judgement that shook the entire entire legal world and is now applicable across the commonwealth and common law jurisdictions. In this case, the court ruled some category of crimes are just so reprehensible and offensive to the human conscience that no immunity from prosecution can be possible; these crimes include genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The court ruled no head of state can have immunity from prosecution, since, it reasoned, carrying out crimes such as genocide can never be a legitimate function of any head of state, The court went ahead to grant universality of jurisdiction, saying any competent court in the world  can try any of these offences even if they were not committed within its jurisdiction or even if the perpetrators were not its own nationals.

Depending on the outcome of this case, it means I can reopen my own case against kayibanda Museveni, which has been kicked into the long grass for the past 11 years. I am going to drag Kayibanda to the Tanzanian courts once again  in a private prosecution for the kidnap, abduction, rape and  murder of Hope Kwaheru in Dar Es Salam in  1976, and I will also commence a private prosecution of kayibanda here in the UK courts in the same manner that Tony Blair is being prosecuted.


Iraq war: judge to review Tony Blair prosecution ban

Private criminal prosecution against former PM was blocked last year by courts giving Blair immunity against criminal charges

Tony Blair caused huge controversy when prime minister in deciding to take Britain into the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
 Tony Blair caused huge controversy when prime minister in deciding to take Britain into the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

The most senior judge in England and Wales will hear a case attempting to overturn a ban on prosecuting Tony Blair over the Iraq war, the Guardian has learned.

A private criminal prosecution against the former Labour prime minister was blocked in 2016 by Westminster magistrates court when it was ruled Blair would have immunity from any criminal charges.

But that ruling by the district judge, Michael Snow, will be reviewed on Wednesday before the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, and Mr Justice Ouseley.

The current attorney general, Jeremy Wright QC, wants the block on proceedings upheld. He will have a barrister in court to try to stop the attempted private prosecution.

The hearing follows a decision by the high court in May, which has not previously been reported. Then a high court judge said those wanting to prosecute Blair could have a hearing to seek permission for a court order allowing their case to go to the next stage. The judge in that case also said the attorney general could formally join in the case.

Blair caused controversy when prime minister in deciding to take Britain into the invasion of Iraq in 2003, which was led by the US and sparked huge opposition.

The private prosecution seeks a war crimes trial in a British court of Blair, the foreign secretary in 2003, Jack Straw, and Lord Goldsmith, the attorney general at the time the government was deciding to join the invasion of Iraq.

The case seeks their prosecution for the crime of aggression. The attorney general in written submissions for Wednesday's hearing says such an offence does not exist in English law, a claim which is disputed.

The private prosecution attempt is based on the findings of last year's Chilcot report into the decision by Blair to join the invasion of Iraq, which is criticised, under the false pretext that Saddam Hussein's regime had weapons of mass destruction.

After the Chilcot report was released some families of British service personnel who lost their lives in Iraq said they wanted Blair prosecuted in the courts.

This attempt at a private prosecution is brought by Gen Abdul-Wahid Shannan ar-Ribat, former chief of staff of the Iraqi army who is now living in exile. His lawyers are Michael Mansfield QC and Imran Khan, who acted for the family of Stephen Lawrence.

In November 2016, a British court ruled against an application to bring a private prosecution. A district judge at Westminster magistrates court ruled Blair had immunity from prosecution over the Iraq war and that any case could also "involve details being disclosed under the Official Secrets Act".

At the hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London, lawyers for the attorney general will argue that the crime of aggression, while existing in international law, has never been included into English law by parliament.

But the government's stance appears to be undermined by Goldsmith. In his 2003 memo on the legality of the Iraq war, Goldsmith appeared to concede the key point of those now seeking his prosecution. "Aggression is a crime under customary international law which automatically forms part of domestic law," he wrote.

At this stage Blair, Straw and Goldsmith are not making an arguments in court against the private prosecution, instead hoping the attorney general's efforts will see it killed off.

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