Socialist Worker

Truth behind Britain’s torture of Iraqi prisoners

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2160

A still taken from video of a British soldier screaming abuse at hooded Iraqi detainees. The footage was played to the public inquiry

A still taken from video of a British soldier screaming abuse at hooded Iraqi detainees. The footage was played to the public inquiry


Shocking images of British soldiers abusing Iraqi civilians were shown for the first time at the start of a public inquiry into the death of Baha Mousa.

Mousa was being detained by soldiers from the former Queen’s Lancashire Regiment. He died within 36 hours of being taken into custody in Basra, Iraq, on 14 September 2003.

He received 93 injuries, including a broken nose and fractured ribs. A post-mortem found he died from asphyxia, possibly caused by being forced to adopt stress positions.

Men held by the regiment were scalded with boiling water, urinated on, kicked, punched and hooded, the hearing was told.

The inquiry into Baha Mousa’s death follows a court martial in September 2006 which failed to identify the soldiers responsible.

Corporal Donald Payne, formerly of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment, became the first member of the Armed Forces to admit a war crime when he pleaded guilty to treating civilians inhumanely. In April 2007 he was jailed for a year. Six other soldiers were cleared of any wrongdoing.

The footage shows Payne at a British military base calling one detainee a “fucking ape”.

The men were made to stand with their backs against the wall of a bare room, their legs bent and their arms tied with plastic handcuffs.

Gerard Elias QC detailed the abuses soldiers from the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment are alleged to have inflicted on the men.

He said, “The detainees were hooded with hessian sandbags, they were placed in stress positions – postures causing physical discomfort or pain without necessarily causing physical injury.

“They were prevented from sleeping-they were subjected to loud noises. There is evidence that they were not properly fed or watered.”

Soldiers who appear as witnesses to the inquiry will not have their evidence used against them in any future criminal proceedings.

The inquiry is expected to last a year.


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News
Tue 14 Jul 2009, 18:56 BST
Issue No. 2160
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