Socialist Worker

British troops are accused of ‘hanging and torture’ in Iraq

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2350

British troops in Iraq tortured then hanged a teenager, his uncle has told a public inquiry.

Khudur Al-Swaiedi gave evidence to the Al-Sweady inquiry last week. The inquiry is  examining whether UK soldiers killed detainees after the Battle of Danny Boy in Iraq in May 2004.

Iraqis were killed at Camp Abu Naji near Majar-al-Kabir on 14 and 15 May 2004. Prisoners were beaten and tortured there, and at Shaibah Logistics Base.

The Ministry of Defence denies the allegations. It says those who died were killed on the battlefield.

When the army handed the bodies back, Khudur wrote the names of those he could identify on their body bags, but some were “disfigured”.

He washed the body of 19 year old Hamid after it had been handed back by British soldiers.

He said he found signs of torture on the teenager, including a boot-shaped bruise on his forehead, a broken arm and bullet wounds. There were also signs that he had been hanged. 

Inhuman

He said, “We saw ambulances. British army ambulances, from a distance. Things were being handed over. It turned out that those were body bags.”

They travelled to the Al-Sadr hospital, where the bodies were taken, and he witnessed an “inhuman catastrophe” as the bags were opened. 

In his statement he said injuries to the bodies included bullet wounds, but also missing eyes and, in one case, missing genitals.

His nephew’s injuries included bullet holes, “signs of torture on his chest”, as well as “bruises by a boot to his forehead”. 

He said one of his arms was broken and there was a “hole in his neck”. 

“I would say the primary cause of death was hanging and torture,” he said. 

The inquiry heard that Hamid’s death certificate mentioned torture, but nothing about hanging. The army and government insist that there is a “complete lack of credibility and reliability” to the allegations.

A lawyer for the inquiry suggested that Khudur may have allowed his memory to be influenced by what he was trying to achieve. “It is a reality and not an illusion,” Khudur countered.

Jonathan Acton Davis, counsel to the inquiry, pressed Khudur to explain why his description of the injuries on Hamid’s body contradicted other witnesses.

Khudur denied this and blamed errors by other witnesses or by translators for apparent gaps between evidence.

Acton Davis challenged the assertion that he had seen a body with a severed penis and was able to establish that it had been cut off while the man was alive.

“It is a very serious allegation to make, Mr Al-Swaiedi, that some unknown soldier cut off a man’s penis while he was alive, isn’t it?” Acton Davis said.

“This is the truth, and it is very serious,” Khudur said.

The hearings are expected to last about a year.


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Tue 23 Apr 2013, 18:27 BST
Issue No. 2350
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