Receptionist died from 93 injuries and kidney failure

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The Independent Online

In September 2003, four months after President George W Bush had officially declared the victory in Iraq, the real war was just getting under way.

British forces raided the Haitham hotel in central Basra where they discovered an arms cache and arrested a group of men suspected of links with insurgents. A popular young officer, Captain Dai Jones had been killed by a roadside bomb, and feelings were running high among some of the British troops.

But what happened to the detainees after they were taken to a detention camp led to the first court martial of British troops on war crimes charges.

The trial of seven soldiers heard that captive Iraqis were beaten with bars, kicked, starved and forced to drink their own urine. They were kept hooded with hessian sacks while the temperature rose to 60 Celsius, made to maintain a stress position for hours and deprived of sleep.

Prosecutor Julian Bevan, QC, said: "We are dealing with systematic abuse against prisoners involving unacceptable violence against persons who were detained in custody, hooded and cuffed, and wholly unable to protect themselves over a very long period of time".

Baha Musa, a 26-year-old hotel receptionist died from 93 injuries including fractured ribs, a broken nose and kidney failure caused by punching and kicking.

Mr Musa, it is claimed, managed to remove his handcuffs and hood while being taken to the detention building. He was placed on the floor, face down, hooded and handcuffed behind his back.

Mr Musa had been examined by a British army medic soon after his arrest on two separate occasions because he and another prisoners were saying that they could not stand up. However, a form filled in at the time stated that no sign of injury had been discovered. According to the evidence the systematic beating which led to Mr Musa's death took place subsequently.

One of the main perpetrators, the court heard, was Corporal Donald Payne, whopleaded guilty to a charge of inhumane treatment under the International Criminal Court Act (ICCA) 2001.