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Sunday, June 1, 2008

John Bolton escapes citizen's arrest at Hay Festival

John Bolton, the former American ambassador to the UN, managed to escape a British journalist's attempt to place him under citizen's arrest Wednesday evening at a festival in Wales. He had brushed off an attempted citizen’s arrest at the Hay Festival in Wales as “comic”.

Mr George Monbiot argues that Bolton helped plan the war in Iraq when he was undersecretary of state for arms control at the State Department, using information he knew to be false.

Mr Bolton said the war was legal, partly because Iraq had failed to comply with a key and binding UN resolution after the end of the Gulf War in 1991. On the war's legality, he added: "This is not my personal opinion, this is the opinion of the entire legal apparatus of the US government."

Mr Monbiot blocked by security guards

A crowd of about 20 protestors, one dressed in a latex George Bush mask, chanted "war criminal" as Mr Bolton was ushered away. Mr Monbiot was blocked by two heavily-built security guards at the end of the one-and-a-half hour appearance, before he could serve a "charge sheet" on him. Mr Monbiot said moments later he was "disappointed" that he had been blocked from making the citizen's arrest.

"This was a serious attempt to bring one of the perpetrators of the Iraq war to justice, for what is described under the Nuremberg Principles as an international crime," he said.

A citizen’s arrest is legal in certain circumstances under the under the Serious and Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.

But Peter Florence, director of the Hay Festival, said on Wednesday that they had sought legal advice and been told carrying out such an arrest would be “completely unlawful” given the circumstances.

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