Former Prime Minister Tony Blair should be put on trial in the Hague over his decision to send British troops into Iraq, says the mother of a British medic killed in Basra. Valerie O'Neill, whose son Kris was killed in 2007 in an IED attack, made her comments ahead of the publication of a wide-ranging inquiry into the Iraq War by Sir John Chilcot on 6 July.
O'Neill, who spoke to IBTimes UK on a train to London to attend Sir John's public statement on the findings of the seven year probe into the conflict, said that Blair should be tried either by the International Criminal Court (ICC) or the Hague over his claim that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. The ICC last week ruled out investigating Blair.
"Tony Blair has to answer for his actions, whether it is in a court of war here or in The Hague. He can't just walk away and say sorry [...] and go off to his merry life and all his millions. No. In my opinion he should be in the Hague, on war crimes [charges]."
O'Neill, who attended many of the Chilcot sessions where both former Prime Ministers Gordon Brown and Blair gave evidence, said that she was both nervous and excited about the unveiling of the inquiry which was initiated in 2009 by Brown.
"Seven years is a long time to wait for something [...]. We're still a little bit thinking the rug is going to be pulled out from under us at the 11th hour," said O'Neill.
Chilcot is due to make a statement at 11am on 6 July in London, the same time that the 2.6 million word report – which cost over £10m – is published online. Following the publication, David Cameron will give a statement in the House of Commons followed by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was an outspoken critic of the Iraq War in 2003 and a former chair of the Stop the War Coalition.
O'Neill said that when her son volunteered to go to Iraq she had been sure that he would be serving in a hospital rather than on the front line: "I don't know if the country realised how much danger they were in, in Iraq. In 2003 [George] Bush and Blair declared 'job done' and yet my son and others were still being killed in 2007. How can you say job done and they are still dying four years later?" she said.
She also said that the serious shortcomings of the equipment that the British Army had during the eight years that soldiers served in Iraq put lives at risk: "Why did [Blair send troops to Iraq] with equipment that didn't work, vehicles that weren't properly protected, body armour they didn't have, and boots that melted in the sand? The list is endless," she said.
"Why we went to war on lies. The lies about the weapons of mass destruction that were never there. My feeling was we should have never gone in. What harm had Iraq done to us? They weren't invading us or anything. We should never have gone into Iraq. We went in on George Bush's coattails."
A total of 179 British service personnel were killed between 2003 and 2011. The number of Iraqi causalities has been estimated as high as 500,000.