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Tutu calls for Blair to be tried at The Hague

07 September 2012

PA

ARCHBISHOP Desmond Tutu (pictured, above) stepped up his public attack on the former Prime Minister Tony Blair this week, calling for him to be tried at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Last week, Dr Tutu withdrew from participating in a conference at which Mr Blair was also scheduled to speak (News, 31 August), because of his "morally indefensible" decision to support the United States' military invasion of Iraq.

Writing in The Observer on Sunday, Dr Tutu said: "On what grounds do we decide that Robert Mugabe should go to the International Criminal Court, Tony Blair should join the international speakers' circuit, [Osama] bin Laden should be assassinated, but Iraq should be invaded, not because of weapons of mass destruction . . . but in order to get rid of Saddam Hussein?"

He continued: "The question is not whether Saddam Hussein was good or bad, or how many of his people he massacred. The point is that Mr Bush and Mr Blair should not have allowed themselves to stoop to his immoral level."

Speaking on the BBC World Service on Monday, Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC, a human-rights lawyer, said that he believed that the Iraq war was "illegal", and "a war of aggression", but said: "The problem with the International Criminal Court is that, at the moment, it doesn't have jurisdiction over the crime of aggression." But the crime of aggression did "probably" exist in UK law, "so a prosecution in the UK is certainly a theoretical possibility, [but] of course there are always practical difficulties."

Canon Giles Fraser, an opponent of the Iraq war, wrote on the Guardian website on Monday that he disagreed with Dr Tutu's decision not to attend the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit, in Johannesburg. Canon Fraser wrote: "One of the things that many of us most admired about South Africa's post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission was that it brought former enemies together in the same room. The idea that there is some sort of moral contamination that comes from frequenting with those who have done wrong is not a Christian one.

"Mandela sat down with de Klerk, Blair sat down with the IRA, and one day the US will have to sit down properly with the Taliban. Indeed, Jesus was often attacked for sitting down with those that morally respectable people had decided were beyond the pale."

Paul Vallely

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