Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 12 December 2019

ICC mulls landmark investigation into British military over alleged war crimes

UK defence ministry said claims it covered up abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan were untrue

Foreign minister Dominic Raab said "all of the allegations, that had evidence, have been looked at". Reuters
Foreign minister Dominic Raab said "all of the allegations, that had evidence, have been looked at". Reuters

The International Criminal Court is considering whether to investigate the British military after evidence emerged that potential war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan were covered up.

A joint report by the BBC and The Sunday Times found fresh evidence that elite British soldiers had been involved in the murders and torture of civilians. It was alleged the UK government tried to hide this but the Ministry of Defence has rejected the claims.

The ICC has previously concluded there was a “reasonable basis” that British soldiers committed war crimes in Iraq against detainees although there was no suggestion they had done so on the battle field. The court has never probed the British military over war crimes before.

“Allegations that the MOD interfered with investigations or prosecution decisions relating to the conduct of UK forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are untrue,” said the UK’s defence ministry.

“Throughout the process the decisions of prosecutors and the investigators have been independent of the MOD and involved external oversight and legal advice,” it added.

The BBC reported the ICC would assess the broadcaster’s investigation, which was based on new evidence from the now-closed Iraq Historic Allegations Team, and take action if necessary.

In 2003 two civilian men were found dead with bags tied over their heads after being tortured in Iraq.

Foreign minister Dominic Raab said "all of the allegations, that had evidence, have been looked at".

The Ministry of Defence said that military police had extensively looked into any allegations.

“The independent Service Prosecuting Authority decided not to prosecute any of the cases referred to it.

“Our military served with great courage and professionalism in Iraq and Afghanistan and we hold them to the highest standards.

“It is Government policy that military operations are conducted in accordance with the Law of Armed Conflict and where allegations are raised, they are investigated,” it said.

Updated: November 18, 2019 01:49 PM

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