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UK High Court rules that Tony Blair should not be proscuted for Iraq war

A court in London has found that former Prime Minister Tony Blair cannot be prosecuted under English law for his role in the 2003 Iraq war. The ruling comes after a former Iraqi general tried to have Blair put on trial.

A British court on Monday rejected a bid by a former Iraqi general to sue ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair over the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, saying there was no statute for any "crime of aggression" in English law under which Blair could be charged.

The ruling came in response to an attempt by Iraqi General Abdulwaheed Al Rabbat to bring Blair, his former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and former attorney general Lord Goldsmith to trial for alleged war crimes in Iraq, citing the concept of "crime of aggression."

The two High Court judges acknowledged that "crime of aggression" charges had recently been incorporated into international law, but stressed that these did not apply retroactively. The judges cited a 2006 Supreme Court case which had ruled that there were no provisions for a "crime of aggression" charge under English law.

They added that any attempt to put Blair on trial for committing a crime of aggression was "hopeless."

Protests outside Tony Blair's house in London (picture-alliance/PA Wire/J. Brady)

Blair's critics have long called for his prosecution

The decision effectively blocks any further attempts by the former Iraqi general, who lives in Oman, to take legal action against Blair.

Findings of Chilcot Inquiry

Lawyers for Al Rabbat had argued that last year's publication of findings by the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war had provided new grounds for prosecuting Blair.

The Chilcot Inquiry concluded that Blair had led Britain into the Iraq war on the basis of flawed intelligence and insufficient planning without exhausting all diplomatic solutions available.

Sir John Chilcot presents The Iraq Inquiry Report (Reuters/J. J. Michell)

Sir John Chilcot's inquiry found some serious government shortcomings

The seven-year inquiry, however, stopped short of judging whether the invasion of Iraq had been legal, and refrained from accusing Blair of deliberately misleading the public or parliament into war.

Prominent UK barrister Michael Mansfield QC appeared for Al Rabbat, who cannot travel to the UK. Mansfield stated that the prosecution of Blair would be justified in light of the Chilcot Inquiry's finding that Iraq's then-leader Saddam Hussein did not pose an imminent threat to the interests of the UK.

Blair maintains that the world is a better place without the Iraqi dictator.

Between 2003 and 2009, the conflict in Iraq, which saw Saddam overthrown, resulted in the deaths of 179 UK troops, almost 4,500 US military personnel and more than 100,000 Iraqis.

Watch video 01:01

Blair: 'World a better place without Saddam Hussein'

ss/tj (AP, dpa)

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