HC Deb 31 October 1994 vol 248 c1207
32. Mr. John Marshall

To ask the Attorney-General if he will make a statement about the operation of the War Crimes Act 1991.

The Attorney-General

Police investigations in seven cases have now reached the stage where they have been referred to the Crown Prosecution Service to consider whether or not to seek my consent to prosecute. Investigations continue in these and other cases.

Mr. Marshall

Will my right hon. and learned Friend assure me that those prosecutions will be brought speedily while the witnesses are still alive and that the war crimes unit will be retained until decisions are made in each of these cases?

The Attorney-General

As my hon. Friend realises, these cases are extremely complex, but they are being pressed forward as fast as is reasonably possible. I shall certainly bear my hon. Friend's important points in mind.

Mr. Janner

Will the Attorney-General recognise that what the hon. Member for Hendon, South {Mr. Marshall) has said is right? The longer time goes on, the more difficult it becomes to prosecute people even if there is sufficient evidence of personal involvement in mass murder. What sort of time scale does the right hon. and learned Gentleman have in mind for these cases to come to him?

The Attorney-General

Of course I recognise what the hon. and learned Gentleman says. Not only did these events happen a very long time ago but those involved are necessarily quite old—and that does require that the cases be pushed forward as fast as they properly can be. That is how they will be pushed forward.

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