ICC opens new investigation on UK war crimes in Iraq
Agence France Presse reported Tuesday that the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor has reopened investigations into war crimes committed by British soldiers in Iraq during the 2003 U.S. invasion after new allegations were submitted earlier this year.
"The new information... alleges the responsibility of officials of the United Kingdom for war crimes involving systematic detainee abuse in Iraq from 2003 to 2008," chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement from the ICC.
The ICC received the new allegations in January from the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, based in Berlin, in conjunction with the UK-based Public Interest Lawyers (PIL). The information provided by the two organizations, that is based on more than 400 interviews with Iraqi detainees, confirms British involvement in torture in Iraq during the U.S. invasion.
According to the documents submitted by PIL and EECHR, British troops stationed at "military detention facilities and other locations [used sensory deprivation, prolonged stress positions as well as beatings, burning and electrocution against Iraqi detainees. Detainees were also threatened with rape, death, and forced exposure to pornography and sexual acts between soldiers.]"
The EECHR PIL document also suggests alleged involvement of soldiers "situated at the highest levels, including all the way up the chain of command of the UK army, and implicating former secretaries of state for defense and ministers for the armed forces personnel."
However, Bensouda has not yet called for a full investigation. If the chief prosecutor does indeed decide to go ahead with a full case, she will have to call upon other ICC judges for permission.
Previous ICC cases regarding torture in Iraq were dismissed in 2006 under former chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo due to what he described as "not enough evidence."
However, Bensouda's statement released Tuesday suggests a now-pressing need to open the topic.
"Based on an initial assessment of the information received, the 10 January 2014 communication provides for further information that was not available to the Office in 2006," her statement read.