Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blair should be tried for war crimes, say families of soldiers killed in Iraq

The Scotsman

Blair should be tried for war crimes, say families of soldiers killed in Iraq

Picture: AFP

Picture: AFP


Published Date: 14 October 2009

By Sam Marsden


ANGRY families of British servicemen killed in Iraq told members of the official inquiry into the conflict that Tony Blair must be held accountable for taking the nation to war.


Many blamed the former prime minister for the deaths of their loved ones in an "illegal" conflict, and some even called for him to be prosecuted for war crimes.

Inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot has confirmed that Mr Blair will give evidence and insists he and his committee will not shy away from criticising individuals.

The panel has not begun hearing from witnesses, but yesterday it held the first in a series of meetings for bereaved families and Iraq veterans to say which areas they want it to examine.

Among those attending the session in London was Deirdre Gover, 63, whose son, Flight Lieutenant Kristian Gover, 30, died in a helicopter accident in Basra, southern Iraq, in July 2004.

Speaking afterwards, she accused Mr Blair of lying to the Cabinet and to the country in the lead-up to the war.

"I hold Tony Blair personally responsible for the death of my son," she said. "My son as an officer was prepared to die for his Queen and country in a just conflict. This was totally unjustified and wrong, and I think that's what the inquiry will prove."

Ms Gover confronted Mr Blair at the Guildhall in London on Friday after a memorial service for the 179 British personnel who died during the conflict.

The mood at yesterday's mostly private meeting between families and Sir John and four members of his committee was described as sombre and quietly emotional. Applause erupted as it was suggested that Mr Blair had to be held responsible for what he did to their loved ones, Ms Gover said.

Another of the bereaved parents who attended was Roger Bacon, 67. His son, Major Matthew Bacon, 34, from the Intelligence Corps, was killed by an improvised explosive device while riding in a lightly armoured Snatch Land Rover in Basra in September 2005.

Mr Bacon said: "I cannot understand any of the so-called reasons that we went to war. Weapons of mass destruction? They don't exist. Regime change? An entirely immoral thing to do – and if it's the sort of thing we're supposed to do, why haven't we gone into Zimbabwe?"

Sir John Chilcot told the meeting that formal hearings taking evidence from witnesses would start at the end of year but there would be a break during the upcoming General Election.

Yesterday's meeting will be followed by a second in London tomorrow, with further sessions in Manchester on Friday, Edinburgh on 21 October, Bristol on 23 October and Belfast on 28 October.

The inquiry, which opened at the end of July, will examine the period from 2001 through to July 2009. It will consider the UK's involvement in Iraq, how decisions were made and identify lessons to be learned.


All rights reserved ©2009

Johnston Press Digital Publishing


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


No comments: