Iraqi abuse report to slam command
A landmark report into abuse of Iraqi prisoners by British soldiers is expected to condemn failings in the Army's chain of command that resulted in an innocent civilian being brutally beaten to death.
Father-of-two Baha Mousa, 26, died after sustaining 93 injuries while in the custody of 1st Battalion the Queen's Lancashire Regiment (1QLR) in Basra, southern Iraq, in 2003.
A major public inquiry into his death and the abuse of nine other Iraqi men held with him will publish its findings on Thursday. While the inquiry has no powers to accuse the troops of crimes, prosecutors could use its report as the basis for bringing charges. It is understood that a number of soldiers have received letters warning them they will be criticised in the report.
Seven members of 1QLR, including the battalion's former commanding officer, Colonel Jorge Mendonca, faced allegations relating to the mistreatment of the detainees at a high-profile court martial in 2006-07.
But the trial ended with them all cleared, apart from Corporal Donald Payne, who became the first member of the British armed forces convicted of a war crime when he pleaded guilty to inhumanely treating civilians. Payne was acquitted of manslaughter.
Mr Mousa was working as a receptionist at the Ibn Al Haitham hotel in Basra when it was raided by British forces in the early hours of September 14 2003. The soldiers found AK47s, sub-machine guns, pistols, fake ID cards and military clothing.
The soldiers subjected the Iraqis to humiliating abuse, including "conditioning" methods banned by the UK Government in 1972 such as hooding, sleep deprivation and making them stand in painful stress positions, the inquiry heard. Mr Mousa was hooded for nearly 24 of the 36 hours he spent in British detention. He died at about 10pm on September 15.
Former Army head General Sir Mike Jackson told the inquiry in June last year that Mr Mousa's death remained "a stain on the character of the British Army".
Lawyers for Mr Mousa's father Daoud and the other detainees argued in closing submissions that the chairman should rule that a group of six soldiers led by Cpl Payne killed Mr Mousa and that others were culpable for failing to prevent the violence against the prisoners.
The MoD agreed in July 2008 to pay £2.83 million in compensation to the families of Mr Mousa and nine other Iraqi men abused by British soldiers.