Socialist Worker

Court martial hears evidence of torture by British

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2025

Five members of the Queen’s Lancashire regiment (now amalgamated into the Duke of Lancaster’s regiment) and two members of the Intelligence Corps are being tried on charges connected with the death of Baha Musa and the abuse of other prisoners in Iraq.

Baha Musa was rounded up with six other men during a night raid on the hotel where he worked in the southern Iraqi city of Basra in September 2003.

A Royal Air Force serviceman has told how he witnessed British army soldiers allegedly abusing Iraqi detainees.

Senior Aircraftsman Scott Hughes said that while visiting the holding facility in Basra, he saw soldiers from the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment (QLR) kicking and shouting at hooded civilians being held as suspected insurgents. He also described the smell caused by the detainees soiling themselves.

Hughes said he saw one soldier, Corporal Donald Payne - who has admitted a charge of inhumanely ill-treating Iraqis but denies the manslaughter of Baha Musa - gouging the eyes of an elderly detainee.

“He was trying to pick his head up by his eye sockets,” Hughes told the court martial at Bulford Camp, Wiltshire.

He said he saw a total of 11 Iraqi detainees and four soldiers at the holding facility. He described the prisoners groaning in pain and the soldiers, chiefly Payne, shouting at them to maintain their positions.

Sergeant Kelvin Stacey, of the QLR, has pleaded not guilty to causing actual bodily harm. Colonel Jorge Mendonca, the former commanding officer of the regiment, and Major Michael Peebles and Warrant Officer Mark Davies, both of the Intelligence Corps, have pleaded not guilty to negligently performing a duty by failing to ensure that the Iraqi detainees were not ill-treated.

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