Video reveals abuse of Iraqi Prisoners by British soldiersJuly 15, 2009 at 12:45 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
Tags: Baha Mousa inquiry, Torture of Iraqi prisoners, UK Abuse of Iraqi prisoners, UK War crimes in Iraq, UK War Criminals
‘Get up you ape’ – video reveals abuse of Iraqi prisoners by British soldier
Monday 13 July 2009 21.59 BST
Click on the link below to see the video:
Soldier shouts abuse at Iraqi prisoners in video shown to Baha Mousa inquiry. Source: Press Association
A British soldier screamed at hooded Iraqi prisoners, calling them “apes”, and others made Iraqis cry out in an “orchestrated choir” and forced one detainee to dance “in the style of Michael Jackson”, the public inquiry into the death in military custody of Baha Mousa heard today.
At its opening in London, the inquiry into the death of the hotel receptionist heard fresh evidence about how he and eight other civilians seized by British troops in Basra in September 2003 were abused by interrogation methods that had been condemned over decades by successive governments.
A video of a British soldier screaming abuse at the hooded detainees was played to the hearing. It showed Corporal Donald Payne, formerly of the 1st Battalion, Queen’s Lancashire Regiment, swearing at the moaning Iraqis as they were forced to maintain “stress positions” with their knees bent.
The hooded prisoners, who had been picked up by British forces at the Ibn al-Haitham hotel, where Mousa worked, had their hands tightly bound with plastic. They moaned and whimpered as Payne stood over one of them and yelled: “Get up, you fucking ape, now. Get up now.”
Payne became the first member of the UK armed forces to admit a war crime under the International Criminal Court Act when he pleaded guilty to treating civilians inhumanely at a court martial in September 2006. He was dismissed from the army and sentenced to a year in a civilian jail. Four other soldiers, including the regiment’s commander, Colonel Jorge Mendonca, were acquitted.
Gerard Elias QC, counsel to the inquiry, said today: “Even if one considers only the video we have just looked at, it may be thought to be entirely apparent that these detainees were being subjected to stress positions and prolonged hooding.
“This was not at the point of capture, not while the detainees were in transit, but when they were in an enclosed, or relatively enclosed, building at BG Main [the base where detainees were taken], with soldiers to guard them to prevent escape.”
In his opening statement, Elias said an event such as Mousa’s death on 16 September 2003 “can act as a rallying cry for extremists, with all the pressures that that puts on those men and women still on active service.” It risked undermining the sacrifices made by British troops.
Elias said the loss of British service personnel in Iraq and elsewhere must not be forgotten. He added: “To be seen to be dealing with such allegations in a comprehensive and fair way may not of itself heal the wounds, but perhaps it does go some way to provide reassurance both to those who may have been wronged and to those who have nothing to fear from the truth”.
Addressing Sir William Gage, chairman of the inquiry, he said the 93 injuries on Mousa’s body might have been inflicted “with a greater degree of deliberation” than was previously thought.
Elias said the detainees claimed the abuse started almost immediately after they were arrested by British troops at the hotel on the night of 13 September 2003. The soldiers believed “former regime loyalists” and “Iranian insurgents” were staying there.
He told the inquiry: “The detainees were hooded with hessian sandbags, placed in stress positions, subjected to shouting. There was also evidence that they were not fed or watered properly.”
Some claimed they were urinated on and forced to lie face down over a hole in the ground filled with excrement. Others said their hands were burned with scalding water, or their heads were flushed in a toilet. Elias said: “One man says he was made to dance in the style of Michael Jackson.”
Elias described the detention facility in which the Iraqis were held as “quite open”, with the detainees “shouting, moaning and even screaming”, and soldiers abusing them in front of onlookers. He also referred to “scandalous accounts of an orchestrated choir of victims’ reactions”.
As far back as 1965, the joint intelligence committee had issued a directive to military interrogators, the inquiry heard. Apart from moral considerations, it said, “torture and physical cruelty of all kinds are professionally unrewarding, since a suspect may be persuaded to talk, but not to tell the truth”.
After evidence of abuse of IRA prisoners, notably of five techniques – wall standing, hooding, subjection to noise, sleep deprivation, and deprivation of food and drink – emerged in Northern Ireland, Edward Heath told the Commons in 1972 that the methods would be banned “in any future operations worldwide, unless parliament decided otherwise”.
Yet in a secret document disclosed at the inquiry today senior officers claimed that “PJHQ [the Permanent Joint Headquarters at Northwood in Middlesex] was unaware of the Heath ruling until it was raised in the last two weeks”. The document was dated 17 May 2004, nearly a year after Mousa’s death.
The inquiry also heard that after a devastating judgment in 1978 by the European court of human rights, the government gave an “unqualified undertaking that the five techniques will not in any circumstances be reintroduced as an aid to interrogation”.
Mousa, 26, suffered injuries including fractured ribs and a broken nose while in the custody of the soldiers. The MoD paid £2.83m in compensation to the families of Mousa and nine other Iraqi men mistreated by British troops.
Mousa’s father, Iraqi police colonel Daoud Mousa, said: “God willing, there will at long last be accountability for what happened to my son.”
Lieutenant General Bill Rollo, the army’s adjutant general, said: “We have done a great deal in the intervening years to improve our training and procedures, but we firmly believe there is more to learn.”