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Army did not breach Iraqi's rights

A former general in Saddam Hussein's army who alleged his brother's human rights were violated by British armed forces during the Iraq war has lost his case at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Tarek Hassan was found dead four months after he was released from the custody of the British Army, which had held him for a month at Camp Bucca in Iraq, close to Um Qasr, a port city in the south of the middle eastern country.

Mr Hassan's brother Khadim, an Iraqi national who now lives in Syria, who was a general in the private army of Saddam's Ba'ath Party, lodged an application with the ECHR in 2009, complaining Tarek's human rights were breached by the Army.

But 17 judges in the Grand Chamber of the Strasbourg court ruled by 13 votes to four that there had been no violation of Articles 2, the right to life, 3, prohibition of torture, and 5, the right to liberty and security, of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Prior to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Khadim was a general manager in the national secretariat of the Ba'ath Party, as well as a general in El Quds army.

In April 2003, after occupying Basra, in southern Iraq, the British Army started arresting high-ranking members of the Ba'ath Party.

Khadim went into hiding at this time and in April 2003, the British Army came to his home in the early hours of the morning and took away Tarek.

Judges found that there had been legitimate grounds under international law for capturing and detaining Tarek, who had been found by British troops, armed and on the roof of his brother's house, where other weapons and documents of a military intelligence value had been retrieved.

Moreover, following his admission to Camp Bucca, he had been subjected to a screening process, which established that he was a civilian who did not pose a threat to security and led to his being cleared for release.

Tarek's capture and detention had not therefore been arbitrary, the Grand Chamber ruled.

Khadim claims that Tarek did not contact his family during the period that the Government claim he was set free.

The former Army general claims Tarek's body was discovered some 435 miles away from Um Qasr near a town north of Baghdad in early September 2003, four months after his release from Camp Bucca.

Khadim claims his brother had eight bullet wounds in his chest from a Kalashnikov rifle and his hands were tied with plastic wire and had many bruises.

However, the Strasbourg judges found complaints under Article 2 - right to life and 3 - prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment - concerning the alleged ill-treatment and death of Tarek to be inadmissible due to lack of evidence.

The UK Government and Khadim both accept that Tarek was taken by British forces to Camp Bucca, a detention facility operated by United States forces.

The Grand Chamber unanimously ruled that Tarek had been within the jurisdiction of the UK between the time of his arrest by British troops in April until his release from the bus that had taken him under military escort to a drop-off point in May 2003.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "I am pleased that the judgment found that British soldiers did not break the law or breach any human rights of Tarek Hassan.

"The soldiers involved acted bravely and professionally.

"There are too many opportunistic allegations like this, both in the UK courts and at Strasbourg: the Court has now sent a strong signal that unreasonable claims will not succeed.

"We will examine the implications of the unwelcome finding that the European Convention applied during the war-fighting phase of the campaign."

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