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Al-Sweady Inquiry to hear evidence

Soldiers who were involved in a notorious battle during the Iraq war are to start giving evidence to a public inquiry into claims that British forces mistreated and unlawfully killed detainees.

The Al-Sweady Inquiry, which is examining claims that UK soldiers mistreated and killed detainees after the ''Battle of Danny Boy'' in May 2004, is to start hearing evidence from military witnesses this week.

The inquiry, which was ordered in 2009, started hearing oral evidence in March but has so far only heard from Iraqi witnesses and some experts.

The probe is looking into claims that 20 or more Iraqis were unlawfully killed at Camp Abu Naji (CAN) near Majar-al-Kabir on May 14 and 15 2004, and detainees were ill-treated there and at Shaibah Logistics Base, where they were moved to, but the Ministry of Defence denies the claims, saying those who died were killed on the battlefield.

The claims centre on the Battle of Danny Boy in May 2004, when a large-scale ambush of UK forces turned into a three-hour pitched battle. The British Army has claimed that bodies were removed from the battlefield and taken back to CAN, along with detainees, but it is alleged that some of the bodies later handed back died at the base. It is also claimed that detainees were mistreated while at CAN and later at Shaibah.

The inquiry is the second probe into the claims after an earlier Royal Military Police (RMP) inquiry was judged inadequate by high court judges following a legal battle by several Iraqis who claim they were abused by British troops after the firefight.

Chaired by Sir Thayne Forbes, the Al-Sweady Inquiry was adjourned in July and returns on Monday when it will hear evidence from military witnesses involved in the battle.

Soldiers and military witnesses will give evidence on the battle itself; on the returning of bodies to Camp Abu Naji and treatment of detainees there; as well as the movement of detainees to Shaibah Logistics Camp and their treatment and interrogation there. There is also expected to be evidence on the original RMP investigation into allegations.

Monday's session will hear from Major Adam Griffiths, from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, who was leading a "rover group" which was ambushed by insurgents at the start of the battle.

Other members of the rover group will also describe events during evidence to the inquiry this week. They will be followed by other soldiers from the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders and Prince of Wales Royal Regiment sent to help the group, who were involved in the fighting, and other military witnesses over the next few months.


From Belfast Telegraph