Lawyers in Basra death case win access to files

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Lawyers acting for the father of an Iraqi man beaten to death while in the custody of the British military have claimed a breakthrough which could help discover "what went wrong and who was responsible".

Phil Shiner, of the law firm Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), said he had won access in the High Court to documents from recent court martial proceedings. He said he believed this brought closer the possibility of a full public inquiry into the killing of Baha Mousa, 26, who died in the custody of British soldiers in Basra in 2003 after suffering 93 injuries.

The law firm is acting on behalf of Mr Mousa's father, Daoud, an Iraqi police colonel.

A court martial held in Wiltshire this year cleared seven soldiers of the abuse of Iraqi civilians or involvement in Mr Mousa's death.

PIL said "a closing of ranks" meant no one had yet been held responsible for death of its client's son.

In June, the House of Lords ruled that human rights laws applied in the case of detained Iraqi civilians and the UK was obliged to conduct an independent investigation into his death.

Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, later announced a review into court martial proceedings to check whether any further inquiry might be required under Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Life, which protect the right to life and prohibit torture and inhuman and degrading treatment. Daoud Mousa and PIL were invited to take part in the review.

But PIL complained to the High Court that they had not been given sufficient access to documents held by the Ministry of Defence relating to Mr Mousa's death and the subsequent court martial.

Yesterday, after a hearing before Mr Justice Jackson, Mr Shiner said: "We are very pleased that we now have a massive amount of additional documentation we would never have gained without going to court, that should enable us to understand exactly what went wrong in Basra and who is responsible."