British soldiers who fought in Iraq could face prosecution at the International Criminal Court (ICC) after it’s Chief Prosecutor suggested there was enough evidence to believe they committed war crimes.
Buried in a 74-page report Fatou Bensouda, the Chief Prosecutor at The Hague, said there is a “reasonable basis” that UK soldiers committed war crimes after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
“Following a thorough factual and legal assessment of the information available… there is reasonable basis to believe that members of the UK armed forces committed war crimes, within the jurisdiction of the Court, against persons in their custody.”
It comes after the Government wound down the controversial Iraq Historic Investigations Team (IHAT) in the wake of disciplinary action against Mr Shiner.
In February this year, Mr Shiner was struck off the roll of solicitors after a string of misconduct and dishonesty charges over his actions relating to the Al-Sweady Inquiry were found proved by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
The ICC reopened an initial probe into war crimes allegations in 2014, relating to prisoner abuse, after lawyers and rights activists claimed that at least 1,071 Iraqi prisoners were tortured between March 2003 and December 2008.
It was also alleged that over the same period British soldiers were behind the unlawful killings of 52 people in their custody.
However, some of the lawyers behind the claims formed part of the group that were found guilty of misconduct charges in a public inquiry into IHAT.
The office of Ms Bensouda said that statements from these discredited individuals:
“could be considered credible enough if substantiated with supporting material.”
According to the report, ‘the prosecutor must be satisfied as to admissibility on both aspects’ before deciding on whether to ask for permission to launch a full investigation.
The ICC’s previous war crimes Chief Prosecutor had said there was not enough evidence to open a full probe.
A UK government spokesman said:
“We have a legal responsibility to investigate credible allegations of wrongdoing by UK forces, and that is what we are already doing as part of service police legacy investigations, which is reviewing the relatively small number of remaining cases after the closure of IHAT, and through Operation Northmoor.
“We are confident that our existing efforts to investigate allegations preclude the need for any investigation by the ICC.”