Arrest warrant sought for Tony Blair

2012-08-29 14:09
Tony Blair (file, AP)

Tony Blair (file, AP)

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Johannesburg - An arrest warrant for former British prime minister Tony Blair is being sought by the Society for the Protection of our Constitution (Spoc).

"We filed a complaint with the SA Police Service yesterday and a 'crimes against the state' docket was opened," Muhammed Vawda, secretary of Spoc, said on Wednesday.

"A case number was issued and it will go to the National Director of Public Prosecutions for a decision."

Blair and former US president George W Bush were found guilty in absentia of crimes against humanity by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal in November last year.

They were also found guilty of genocide for their roles in the Iraq War. The tribunal was presided over by five judges.

The court acknowledged that the verdict was non-enforceable, but the findings were reported to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The Daily Maverick reported that the official UK government inquiry into the Iraq War, the Chilcot Inquiry, is only set to release a report late into 2013, which will run more than one-million words.

It reported that part of the delay was due to a row over whether Cabinet officials were willing to publish certain sensitive documents, such as notes passed between Blair and Bush, and records of their conversations.

The inquiry held public hearings between the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2011 on matters including the background to the war.

Blair is in South Africa this week as one of the speakers at the Discovery Leadership Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre on Thursday.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu withdrew from the summit on Tuesday because of Blair's attendance.

The Muslim political party Al Jama-ah said it planned to protest against Blair when he spoke at the summit.

Vawda said South Africa was legally bound to the requirements of international law, as it fell under the United Nations jurisdiction, and therefore was compelled to co-operate.

"Legally speaking, we expect to get the warrant...all the grounds are there...there is no obstacle," said Vawda.

South Africa must operate without fear, favour or prejudice, he said, adding that the judiciary, police and National Directorate for Public Prosecutions must not bow down to political pressure.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phindile Louw said she would comment on the matter after checking on the complaint.

- SAPA

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