EDINBURGH, 14 May (RIA Novosti), Mark Hirst – British soldiers who have mistreated prisoners of war or who have killed unarmed or wounded opponents are “terrorists, not soldiers” a retired senior British military officer who served in the first Gulf war has told RIA Novosti.
Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Crawford who now works as a defence consultant was responding to the decision that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is to proceed with a formal investigation into alleged war crimes carried out between 2003 and 2008 by British military personnel during the Iraq war.
“People can’t be allowed to get away with things that they shouldn’t do, even in the heat of combat,” Crawford told RIA Novosti.
“You don’t mistreat prisoners of war, you don’t shoot wounded opponents, you don’t shoot unarmed opponents who can’t defend themselves, you don’t attack women and children and you just don’t do it because otherwise you are a terrorist, not a soldier,” Crawford added.
The former senior staff officer, who this week published his personal account of the first Gulf war “Sending My Laundry Forward,” told RIA Novosti that British veterans and serving military personnel should have nothing to fear from the ICC investigation.
“It seems that one of the reasons people join the armed forces is to protect human rights so it seems entirely appropriate that a country whose armed forces are in general terms for the good and not for the bad, should have no fears about the ICC investigation,” Crawford said.
“There is a code of conduct even in the most hideous human interactions known as war,” Crawford added. “As soon as an enemy combatant becomes incapable of resisting you have to afford them the same level of succour as you would your own. You cannot just bump people off. That’s what the SS did,” Crawford told RIA Novosti.
A 250 page report has been submitted to the ICC by international law firm Public Interest Lawyers. The documents list the names of four former UK Defence Secretaries and raise the possibility of prosecutions against senior politicians and military commanders.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose decision it was to take the country to war, is not included in the papers passed to the ICC.
“There is a considerable body of opinion that thinks Britain went to war on a trumped up case, the sexed up dossier being one example, and if that is the case and there is illegality involved then Tony Blair’s name should be added to that list,” Crawford added.