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UK officials accused of Iraq war crimes

Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) and the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) [advocacy websites] on Sunday filed a formal complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] alleging that UK government and military officials engaged in "systematic" war crimes during the war in Iraq. According to reports, the complaint primarily alleges [The Independent report] that UK service personnel, at the behest of their superiors within the UK government, abused and, in some instances, "willfully killed" Iraqi detainees in violation of the Rome Statute [text]. Several government officials have reportedly denied the accusations and pledged that the matters will be, or already have been, investigated and resolved internally. The official PIL and ECCHR report, which sets forth the allegations in detail based upon the testimony of hundreds of Iraqis, will reportedly be released to the public Tuesday at the Law Society in London.

The Iraq War [JURIST backgrounder] was plagued with accusations of war crimes and atrocities, aimed at the different parties and countries involved in the conflict. In September 2012 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu called [JURIST report] for former US president George W. Bush and former UK prime minister Tony Blair to stand trial at the ICC for their roles in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In November 2011 Malaysian Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War (KLFCW) found Bush and Blair guilty of war crimes after a symbolic trial [JURIST report], in which the duo was found guilty on charges in connection to the invasion of Iraq. During that same timeframe a UK appeals court ruled [JURIST report] that a special commission charged with investigating the alleged abuse of Iraqi civilians in British-controlled detention facilities between March 2003 and December 2008 lacked independence. The Court of Appeals ordered Defence Secretary Liam Fox to reconsider his refusal to open a single public inquiry into allegations of UK military abuse.

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