London, United Kingdom - It was only as David Cronin saw Tony Blair and his entourage striding towards him that he finally plucked up the courage to go through with his plan to attempt to arrest the former British prime minister over his role in the invasion of Iraq and claim a bounty on his head.
"I walked up to him very briskly and managed to put my hand on his arm and say, 'Mr Blair, this is a citizen's arrest,'" Cronin told Al Jazeera of the 2010 encounter at the European Parliament in Brussels, where he worked as a journalist.
"I didn't have time to say anything else before his bodyguards pushed me away, so I just shouted at him, 'You are guilty of war crimes!' He looked at me for a split-second before I was bundled off. I can only describe it as a look of puzzlement and contempt."
Ten years since British forces joined the US-led assault, many in the UK are more critical than ever of the country's involvement in a conflict documented by the Iraq Body Count database to have killed more than 112,000 civilians.
More than a fifth - 22 percent - of Britons polled by YouGov this month said they believed Blair should be tried as a war criminal for his role in the conflict, which was preceded by massive anti-war demonstrations in London and other cities.
Fifty-three percent said the invasion was wrong, while half said Blair, a key international ally of US President George W Bush, had deliberately misled the British people over the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction.
Blair's schedule these days is a closely guarded secret to avoid ambushes by the protesters who stalk his public appearances armed with eggs, shoes and banners reading: "BLIAR". Even his testimony at last year's phone-hacking inquiry was interrupted by an intruder shouting, "This man is a war criminal!"
Cronin, meanwhile, is one of four people to have claimed a reward from an online campaign, Arrest Blair, which offers a share of a bounty pot for each attempted arrest.
Friday, March 22, 2013
UK: citizen campaign to get Blair judged for war crimes