British soldiers tortured and murdered up to 20 Iraqis in cold blood, the High Court was told yesterday.
It happened after a three-hour gun battle at an Army checkpoint near Basra, a lawyer claimed.
Rabinder Singh said a group of local men were taken prisoner and transported to an Army camp where they were beaten with a rusty tent pole, punched, slammed against walls, denied water, blasted with loud music and forced to strip naked in the presence of a woman – a humiliation for Muslim men.
The next day, he said, only nine were still alive – and 20 corpses were returned to their families. One was teenager Hamid Al-Sweady.
The Army claims the men all died in the initial gun battle, but Hamid’s uncle Khuder Al-Sweady and five survivors of the incident yesterday began a court battle in London to win an independent inquiry.
The clash in May 2004 came after insurgents launched a heavy attack on a checkpoint known as Danny Boy in Al Majar-al-Kabir – the town north of Basra where six military policeman had been murdered the previous year.
According to Army accounts, the soldiers were heavily outnumbered but fought back heroically, mounting a bayonet charge at one point, until the attackers were defeated. The Army says only nine Iraqis were taken away alive for questioning.
But Mr Singh said that when the shooting was over, the British troops took bloody revenge. He said: ‘It is the claimants’ case that at least some of those captured were tortured and killed by British troops between 14 and 15 May 2004, and that there has been no effective investigation into what happened to them in that 24-hour period.
‘This constitutes a substantive and procedural breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.’
He added: ‘There is a lot of evidence from soldiers at the battlefield that there were more than nine that were taken alive.
‘Many of the bodies of the Iraqis returned on 15 May 2004 were severely disfigured and some appeared to show marks of torture and mutilation.’
The Ministry of Defence says a tenmonth Royal Military Police investigation showed the 20 dead were killed in the initial battle. The corpses were taken to be identified before being returned to their families, with no evidence of torture. The hearing continues
Source: Mail Online