Tuesday, September 22, 2009

British army "widespreadly torture Iraqi civilians"


British army used widespread torture methods in Iraq, a British government lawyer said on Monday in an aknowledgement on a public inquiry into the 2003 death of hotel receptionist Baha Mousa.

The British soldiers responsible for the death of Baha Mousa were "not just a few bad apples," Singh told the inquiry. "There is something rotten in the whole barrel," he said.

Baha Mousa, a 26-year old Iraqi, was beaten and killed in the custody of British troops following a raid on his hotel in the southern Iraq city of Basra in September 2003.

He died after suffering up to 100 injuries in the course of 36 hours of beating during which he screamed constantly, the inquiry heard.

British troops in Iraq routinely used harsh interrogation methods banned by the government in 1972 after they were used against civilians in Northern Ireland and clearly did not think they were doing anything illegal, Rabinder Singh, a lawyer for the Mousa family said.

An autopsy concluded that Mousa died of asphyxia, caused by a stress position that soldiers forced him to maintain.

In 2006, British army corporal Donald Payne was convicted of a war crime after pleading guilty to torturing civilians at a court martial.

Six soldiers were cleared of wrongdoing at a court martial in 2007, but a seventh pleaded guilty to inhumanely treating Iraqi civilians and was jailed and dismissed from the military.

Britain's Ministry of Defence (MoD) has apologized for the death and last year agreed to pay 2.83 million pounds (4.58 million dollars) in compensation to the families of Mousa and nine other men.

David Barr, counsel for the MoD, said "The brutality was completely unacceptable. It has stained the reputation of the British army.

Singh said the inquiry should determine why and on whose authority previously banned interrogation techniques were used against Iraqi civilians.

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