Leadership failings blamed for abuse of Iraqi prisoners

Neglect of duty by senior military officers led to abuse of captive Iraqi civilians and the use of interrogation techniques forbidden by the British Army for more than 30 years, a court martial was told yesterday.

Colonel Jorge Mendonca, the former commanding officer of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, and Major Michael Peebles and Warrant Officer Mark Davies, of the Intelligence Corps, were accused of failing to have a checking system which could have prevented assaults which left one prisoner, Baha Mousa, dead and others seriously injured.

MajPeebles, 35, WO Davies, 37, and ColMendonca, 42, each face a charge of negligently performing their duties.

The Iraqis had been arrested on suspicion of involvement with insurgents, and soon after the deaths of six British Royal Military Policemen in a gun battle at Majar al-Kabir in Maysan province and Captain Dai Jones, an officer in the First Battalion Queen's Lancashire Regiment, who was killed by a bomb attack near Basra.

Maj Peebles had referred to the prisoners as "terrorist suspects", the court was told.

Julian Bevan QC, for the prosecution, said: "This failure to have a checking system in place has to be seen in light of the fact that the soldiers, who are in charge of persons suspected of being a threat to the coalition forces, could be tempted to behave out of line, abuse them and ill-treat them."

Mr Bevan said, bearing in mind the recent deaths of the British servicemen, the officers in charge should have been even more alert to the possibility of ill-treatment.

Left unchecked and unsupervised, the soldiers kept the detainees hooded, deprived of sleep and in the "stress position" (standing knees bent, arms outstretched) for a 36-hour period, the court was told.

This contravened the prisoners' rights within law to be treated humanely. The technique had been forbidden since a 1972 government investigation into practices in Northern Ireland. In addition the British military's intelligence specialists have also said the method was counter-productive in gaining information, Mr Bevan said.

Furthermore, in contravention of a standing order in the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, the detainees were held at a temporary holding facility for more than 14 hours, the court heard.

The nine arrested Iraqis were taken to the holding base for tactical questioning, under Maj Peebles' command, in order to find out whether they were a risk to the occupation forces.

Addressing the failure to move them on to other facilities, Mr Bevan said: "The consequences were that these detainees were held, cuffed, hooded, deprived of sleep and, for the most part, held in the stress position in extreme heat and increasingly unsanitary conditions for over 36 hours until the death of Baha Mousa. The result was that Corporal Payne and the guards were left to act as they wished."

Cpl Donald Payne, 35, has admitted to the inhuman treatment of the Iraqis, but denies charges of manslaughter and perverting the course of justice. L/Cpl Wayne Crowcroft, 22, and Pte Darren Fallon, 23, are have denied a charge of inhuman treatment. Sgt Kelvin Stacey, 29, is accused of assault occasioning actual bodily harm with an alternative count of common assault.

The case continues.

News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?