Rage against Blair as families mourn Iraq war dead

A protester holds up a placard during a demonstration before the publication of the Chilcot report into the Iraq war. (Matt Dunham, AP)
A protester holds up a placard during a demonstration before the publication of the Chilcot report into the Iraq war. (Matt Dunham, AP)

London - As protesters outside bayed for Tony Blair's prosecution, inside the building where John Chilcot delivered his damming Iraq War Inquiry report the father of a dead serviceman delivered his own verdict: "My son died in vain".

Having waited seven years for the former civil servant to deliver his verdict on Britain's role in the 2003 conflict, bereaved families and anti-war protesters were united in an outpouring of anger.

"There is one terrorist in this world that the world needs to be aware of, and his name is Tony Blair, the world's worst terrorist," Sarah O'Connor, whose brother Bob was killed in Iraq in 2005, told a press conference following the report's publication.

The inquiry found that former prime minister Blair had taken Britain into a badly planned, woefully executed and legally questionable war in 2003.

O'Connor demanded that Blair explain his actions directly to relatives of the 179 British troops killed in the invasion and subsequent occupation.

"Why is he not here looking at us? If he is so sure of his decision, why is he not here looking at our eyes, and seeing our faces?" she said.

Given the chance, grieving mother Rose Gentle said she would ask Blair: "Why did you kill my son?"

Reg Keys, whose son Thomas died when a mob attacked a police station in 2003, accused Blair of "manufacturing and massaging the intelligence reports" even though Chilcot laid the blame for faulty intelligence at the feet of spy chiefs.

'War crimes'

Outside the Queen Elizabeth II centre in London - where Chilcot delivered a summary of his 2.6 million-word report - more than a hundred protesters shouted "Blair lied, thousands died!" and "war criminal Tony Blair!".

Two demonstrators were dressed up as Blair and former US president George W Bush, with fake blood dripping from their hands, while others carried placards reading: "Blair must face war crimes trial", "Justice for Iraq. The Hague for Blair", and "Bomber Blair. Jail this criminal now".

"Tony Blair is a war criminal. We knew the war was based on lies," said Michael Culver, 78.

Kim Sparrow, 52, said: "Tony Blair is a mass murderer.

"He knew what he was doing. Over a million people died," Sparrow said.

Although more restrained, the families were equally determined to see Blair, and other government officials, face further action.

"If state officials are determined to have acted unlawfully or in excess of their powers, then the families will then decide on whether to take any necessary and appropriate action," said Matthew Jury, who is representing some of the relatives.

"All options will be considered."

Legal action could "motivate government into making sure that they change the way they do business," said Richard Bacon, whose 34-year-old son Matthew was killed in 2005, adding that "never again must so many mistakes be allowed to sacrifice British lives".

With Iraq still consumed by violence, families doubted that the sacrifices had been worthwhile.

"I look at Iraq and on my TV screens today, with 200 plus deaths that took place the other day. I can only conclude... my son died in vain," said Keys.

However, families said the report sent a strong message to the world, and that the seven years taken to publish the findings had been "worth the wait".

"Governments have to recognise that people who walk past these houses of power, they have voices and we will be heard," said O'Connor.

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