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British troops 'abused 222 Iraqis'

Some 222 Iraqi civilians have been the victims of "systemic abuse", including torture and inhumane and degrading treatment, at the hands of British soldiers and interrogators in Iraq, it has been alleged at the High Court.

Public Interest Lawyers, the solicitors acting on behalf of the Iraqis, submitted video evidence to two judges to support their claims.

Michael Fordham QC, appearing for the Iraqis, said: "There are credible allegations of serious, inhumane practices across a whole range of dates and facilities concerning British military detention in Iraq."

The QC asked: "Is this Britain's Abu Ghraib?" - referring to the prison in Iraq which became notorious for allegations of torture and abuse against US soldiers.

Lord Justice Richards, sitting with Mr Justice Silber, indicated that the judges had looked at video evidence of alleged abuse, "especially that picked out in witness statements".

Iraqi civilians complain the abuse occurred during the period from March 2003 to December 2008 in British-controlled detention facilities in Iraq in the aftermath of the war to topple Saddam Hussein.

The Iraqis' legal team is challenging a refusal by Defence Secretary Liam Fox to order a new, wide-ranging inquiry to probe all the allegations being made and whether there was systemic abuse, as opposed to ill treatment by "a few bad apples". A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "These remain unproven allegations of mistreatment."

Before the start of Friday's three-day hearing at London's Law Court, PIL solicitor Phil Shiner said: "It is nonsense to suggest, as the MoD does, it is a case of just a few bad apples. That is absolutely not the case. There are very serious allegations related to very troubling systemic abuse."

Alleged inhumane treatment included keeping Iraqis naked if they did not co-operate with interrogators and various kinds of sexual abuse. There were also accusations of depriving individuals of food and water as a means of "softening up" Iraqis for interrogation, as well as prolonged solitary confinement, sleep deprivation and mock executions.

The lead claimant in Friday's application for judicial review is Ali Zaki Mousa, from Basra, who alleges he suffered months of beatings and other abuse in the custody of British soldiers in 2006/07. The hearing is expected to last three days.


From Belfast Telegraph