Image: A “Bliar” black coffin is placed on the ground during a protest outside of a Chilcot inquiry session in London in 2010. (Photo: Chris Beckett/flickr/cc)
Families of servicemen and women killed in Iraq pledge legal action if investigation into war is not published soon
The father of a soldier killed in the 2003 invasion of Iraq said Wednesday that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair should be tried as a war criminal, as military families pledged to take legal action against the UK government if it does not publish a long-delayed investigation into the war.
“I’d like to see Tony Blair dragged in shackles off to court as a war criminal because we have to bear in mind 180 British service personnel were killed here, over 3,500 wounded, two million Iraqis fled Iraq, over 100,000 innocent Iraqis have been killed,” Reg Keys, who lost his son, Lance Corporal Tom Keys, during the 2003 invasion, told the BBC.
Keys is part of a group of 29 families that on Wednesday threatened to sue the inquiry’s lead investigator, Sir John Chilcot, if he does not set a date of publication for the report within two weeks.
Stalling publication of the Chilcot Inquiry is keeping grieving families of slain veterans from getting “closure,” he added. The families have called the delay “morally reprehensible.”
Officials have pushed back publication of the Chilcot Inquiry for six years. Keys blamed the logjam on the government’s “Maxwellisation” procedure, which gives individuals criticized in official reports time to respond to allegations.
“This is an inquiry into a war… I don’t think Sir John has actually got that to be honest, the gravity of what’s happened here,” Keys said. As the process has dragged on, he added, coverage of the inquiry became “like an open wound that is continually prodded.”
Blair has continually denied responsibility for his role in fomenting instability in the Middle East and fended off questions about the progress of the inquiry. During a panel at the World Economic Forum in January, an audience member accused Blair of having “great responsibility” for the region’s current conflicts. In response, the former prime minister blamed a “closed minded view of the world” and a “perversion of Islam” which he says has perpetuated a “culture of hatred.”
Chilcot last month defended the Maxwellisation process as giving the investigative team “the best chance of getting it right.” He also said that the investigation is making “significant progress,” but that there is no “realistic timetable for completion.” Other sources have indicated the report is not likely to be published this year.
That response was poorly received by British Prime Minister David Cameron, who warned the retired civil servant that the cabinet was “fast losing patience.”