- The Washington Times - Monday, July 28, 2003

ATHENS — Greece’s largest lawyers association lodged a complaint yesterday with the International Criminal Court against British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government for what it said were crimes against humanity in Iraq.

“The repeated, blatant violations by the United States and Britain … of the stipulations of the four 1949 Geneva conventions, the 1954 Convention of The Hague as well as of the International Criminal Court’s charter constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity,” the 20,000-member Athens Bar Association said in a statement.

Dimitris Paxinos, president of the lawyers group, said in a radio interview he did not expect The Hague-based ICC to summon Mr. Blair to testify but said this was a decision to be taken by the tribunal.

The action also cites British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon and Adam Ingram, minister of state for the armed forces.

It is now up to ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno OCampo to decide if there is any substance to the 47-page complaint against Mr. Blair’s government, which was Washington’s key ally in the war on Iraq.

The United States has refused to back the ICC, fearing it will become a tool for politically motivated prosecutions targeting U.S. officials, as well as American soldiers on peacekeeping missions abroad.

The United States is also signing treaties with individual countries to protect U.S. troops and officials from the ICC.

The ICC was set up last year to conduct investigations and prosecutions of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. But the court is only able to act when the countries themselves are unable or unwilling to investigate or prosecute.

Mr. Paxinos said the Athens group had not brought a similar case against President Bush because the United States had not ratified the treaty setting up the ICC and was therefore outside its jurisdiction.

If the case against Britain is heard, the Greek group said it would summon a number of high-level figures as witnesses, including U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

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