UK & World News
British Troops Face Iraq Abuse Claims Probe
The prosecutor at the International Criminal Court is to hold a "preliminary examination" into claims of abuse by British forces in Iraq.
Attorney General Dominic Grieve, who announced the move, said the Government "completely rejects" allegations of "systematic abuse".
"British troops are some of the best in the world and we expect them to operate to the highest standards, in line with both domestic and international law," he said.
"In my experience, the vast majority of our armed forces meet those expectations.
"Where allegations have been made that individuals may have broken those laws, they are being comprehensively investigated."
The preliminary examination Fatou Bensouda will carry out is not an investigation.
Instead, it will look at the systems the Government has in place to investigate allegations of abuse and to prosecute any soldiers found to have acted inappropriately.
Mr Grieve described Britain's inquiry teams as "independent, robust and meticulous".
They include the Iraq Historic Allegations Team, which was set up to investigate alleged offences ranging from murder to low-level violence in Iraq from 2003-2009.
It is led by retired senior police detective Mark Warwick and comprises 145 staff, including Royal Navy Police, civilian investigators and civil servants.
Mr Grieve said: "The Government has been, and remains, a strong supporter of the ICC and I will provide the office of the prosecutor with whatever is necessary to demonstrate that British justice is following its proper course."
The International Criminal Court, based at The Hague in the Netherlands, deals with the most serious crimes of global concern including war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
The prosecutor's office is currently investigating allegations of crime in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, the Central African Republic, Kenya, Libya, the Ivory Coast and Mali.
As well as the alleged abuse in Iraq, it is also conducting preliminary examinations of crimes said to have occurred in Afghanistan, Colombia, North Korea, Georgia, Guinea, Honduras, Nigeria and Palestine.