Try Blair for war crimes, say families of soldiers killed in Iraq

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London, Oct.14 (ANI): Families of British servicemen killed in Iraq have told members of the official inquiry into the conflict that former Prime Minister Tony Blair should be held accountable for taking the nation to war.

Many blamed Blair for the deaths of their loved ones in what they termed as an "illegal" conflict. Some even called for him to be prosecuted for war crimes.

According to The Scotsman, inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot has confirmed that Blair will give evidence and insists he and his committee will not shy away from criticizing individuals.

The panel has not begun hearing from witnesses. Yesterday, it held the first in a series of meetings for bereaved families and Iraq veterans to say which areas they want it to examine.

Among those attending the session in London was Deirdre Gover, 63, whose son, Flight Lieutenant Kristian Gover, 30, died in a helicopter accident in Basra, southern Iraq, in July 2004.

Speaking afterwards, she said: "I hold Tony Blair personally responsible for the death of my son. My son as an officer was prepared to die for his Queen and country in a just conflict. This was totally unjustified and wrong, and I think that's what the inquiry will prove."

The mood at yesterday's mostly private meeting between families and Sir John and four members of his committee was described as sombre and quietly emotional.

Roger Bacon, 67, whose son, Major Matthew Bacon, 34, from the Intelligence Corps, was killed by an improvised explosive device while riding in a lightly armoured Snatch Land Rover in Basra in September 2005, said: "I cannot understand any of the so-called reasons that we went to war. Weapons of mass destruction? They don't exist. Regime change? An entirely immoral thing to do - and if it's the sort of thing we're supposed to do, why haven't we gone into Zimbabwe?"

Yesterday's meeting will be followed by a second in London tomorrow, with further sessions in Manchester on Friday, Edinburgh on 21 October, Bristol on 23 October and Belfast on 28 October.

The inquiry, which opened at the end of July, will examine the period from 2001 through to July 2009. It will consider the UK's involvement in Iraq, how decisions were made and identify lessons to be learned. (ANI)

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