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British Army command ‘sanctioned prisoner abuse’

Issue No. 2028

The high command of the British Army officially sanctioned the hooding and mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners, a court martial has been told.

The claims were made by a witness in the court martial of seven soldiers charged in relation to the abuse and ill treatment of nine Iraqis in Basra in 2003.

Major Antony Royce told the court that he was instructed by those higher up the chain of command in Basra to use “conditioning techniques”, including putting prisoners in stress positions and hooding them, to prepare detainees for “tactical questioning”.

Royce told the court that he was told by Major Mark Robinson, a brigade intelligence adviser, to “condition” prisoners. Royce said that he then checked with Major Russel Clifton, the brigade’s legal adviser, and was again told that “ conditioning” and hooding were acceptable.

Julian Bevan QC, for the prosecution, put it to Royce that both men deny having said that conditioning was acceptable. Royce replied by insisting that they had said so.

Five members of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment and two from the Intelligence Corps are on trial. Baha Musa, one of the Iraqi prisoners, died after 36 hours of being hooded, handcuffed, beaten and deprived of sleep.

Corporal Donald Payne has pleaded guilty to inhumanely treating the detainees, but denied two further charges of the manslaughter of Baha Musa and perverting the course of justice.

The six other defendants have pleaded not guilty to all charges. The trial, before a “jury” panel of senior military officers, continues on Monday.

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Sat 25 Nov 2006, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2028
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