British troops that fought in the Iraq war between 2003 and 2011 could be prosecuted for war crimes.
That’s according to Mark Warwick, a former police detective in charge of the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), in an interview with The Independent newspaper who said there are “lots of significant cases” that would warrant a discussion over whether they fell into the war crimes threshold.
Currently, lawyers are referring a raft of alleged abuse cases by soldiers to IHAT and the organisation has already
considered at least 1,515 possible victims. So far, 280 were allegedly unlawfully killed.
“Over the next 12 to 18 months, we will review all the caseload to better understand the picture and then I think we can say whether 2019 seems realistic,” said Warwick. IHAT has budget of £57.2 million ($84.5 million)which only runs until the end of 2019.
“We would look at the credibility of the allegation in the first instance and, when we’ve looked at a lot of these extra cases coming to us, some of them are duplicates of cases, some of them we’ve already identified as part of our own investigation process, and some are multiple allegations, where we would investigate as a single allegation.”
In Britain, two lengthy and expensive public inquiries have already looked at claims against UK troops’ conduct in Iraq during the war.
On BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme this week, cited by The Independent, former army commander in Afghanistan Colonel Richard Kemp said the IHAT investigation needed to be completed urgently, but pointedly said that it was “inconceivable” that that number of allegations against British troops could be legitimate.
“Of course one has to be concerned about these allegations, but the number, the sheer number, thousands of allegations made against British soldiers in Iraq, I just cannot believe that any significant number of them can be valid,” he said.
The revelation comes just months after former Royal Marines
Sergeant Alexander Blackman
convicted of murdering an injured Afghan fighter on the battlefield and given a life sentence in which he would have serve a minimum of 10 years in jail.
Blackman was convicted of the murder after he “shot his victim in the chest at close range in Helmand province after the Afghan had been seriously injured in an attack by an Apache helicopter in July 2011.”
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