Call for Scotland to try Blair as 'war criminal'

SCOTLAND'S Lord Advocate was today urged to prosecute Tony Blair as a war criminal for the invasion of Iraq.

Former MP Jim Sillars said he had written to Elish Angiolini with a 10,000-word document setting out a formal complaint against the Prime Minister.

And he said Scots law allowed Mr Blair to be put on trial despite such a move being ruled out south of the Border.

The move came as Westminster Tories called for an immediate inquiry into the war in Iraq in a move expected to cause a Labour backbench rebellion. Shadow foreign secretary William Hague was using a Commons debate to call for a hearing by senior politicians with powers to summon officials and military commanders.

Mr Sillars, who is married to independent Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald, claimed Mr Blair was guilty of conspiracy with others to wage aggressive war, and waging aggressive war against the state of Iraq in March 2003, contrary to international law and the law of Scotland.

In his letter to the Lord Advocate, he said: "I am requesting you to investigate this complaint and prosecute in a Scottish court."

Mr Sillars emphasised that despite his political past - first as a Labour MP and then as SNP MP and deputy leader - the complaint against Mr Blair was based on legal principles and case law and was not a political initiative.

He told Ms Angiolini in the letter: "You will find that the research is sound, and that the case against Tony Blair is a strong one. You, of course, will be able to dig wider and deeper than I can as an ordinary citizen, and I am sure that when you do you will reach the same conclusion as contained in the complaint."

Mr Sillars said it was generally believed that Mr Blair could not be indicted for war crimes over Iraq.

But Mr Sillars claimed Scotland's High Court had "declaratory powers" which enabled it to embrace international crimes in Scots law.

He said: "I have spent since January of this year, with a break for the election, researching the case against Blair and whether he could be indicted through the Scottish criminal justice system. The complaint lodged with the Lord Advocate shows the conclusion to that effort. Blair can, in my opinion, be tried in a Scottish court; and the evidence of his conspiracy through deception, lies and misinformation, and his intention of committing the illegal act of regime change through aggressive war, is quite clear. "

Mr Sillars said the Prime Minister had carried on because he felt immune from prosecution.

Mr Hague said today that the presence of UK soldiers in Iraq could not be used as an excuse to "indefinitely postpone" the inquiry. He wants an investigation along the lines of the wide-ranging inquiry into the Falklands War chaired by philosopher Oliver Franks.

Downing Street has said it will hold a probe into the war and the faulty intelligence about Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction, but not while UK troops are in the country.

And Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett is expected to dismiss the call, arguing there have already been four inquiries into various aspects of the war and that another one would distract from the efforts of troops on the ground.

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