The British Army fusilier who took photographs of fellow troops allegedly abusing Iraqi civilians did so to show them to his mother when he came home, a court martial heard yesterday.
Fusilier Gary Bartlam, already convicted at separate hearing, was a witness at the trial of Cpl Daniel Kenyon, 33 and L/Cpls Mark Cooley, 25, and Darren Larkin, 30, of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, who are accused of abusing civilians in Iraq in 2003. Bartlam's 22 photographs form the main evidence of the trial. They show laughing British soldiers torturing an Iraqi man tied in a cargo net and suspended from a fork-lift truck. Other photographs showed naked Iraqi civilians being forced to simulate oral and anal sex with each other.
Bartlam told the court martial that he always carried a camera with him in Iraq so that he could "show his parents" what jobs he had been doing in the country. He said that at least 10 other soldiers were present while the Iraqis were being forced to simulate sex and that many were also taking photographs.
Bartlam was asked to look at a picture of two Iraqis apparently simulating a sex act. Cpl Kenyon's defence counsel, Joseph Giret, said: "That's a very nice picture to show your mum isn't it?" Mr Giret argued that Bartlam had reached an arrangement with the prosecution in the case so as to implicate Cpl Kenyon: "You made sure of this because you had to deliver a scalp to the prosecution," he added. "I say you have lied and lied and lied."
In cross-examination, it emerged that four other charges of assault and indecent assault against Bartlam had been dropped prior to the Osnabrück court martial. .
Mr Giret cited other evidence from witnesses at the camp in which Bartlam was alleged to have boasted he got two naked Iraqi men to "shag" and had given them electric shocks. The witnesses suggested Bartlam was lying but he told them "It's true," Mr Giret said. Mr Giret added : "You are something of a nutter." Bartlam replied: "I am not. Otherwise, I'd be in a mental institution."
Bartlam, who admitted suffering from dyslexia, had to be helped to read court evidence and his witness box was moved closer to defence lawyers to enable them to understand him.
He told a board of seven army officers how he had returned to a large hangar in the section of the supply depot where his unit was billeted early on the morning of 15 May 2003 after taking part in operation Ali Baba. "I went down to see what was going on," he told the court martial.
"The two Iraqis were naked ... they had their thumbs up and they were acting like they were doing it - buggery," Bartlam told the court.
Bartlam said L/Cpl Cooley and Cpl Kenyon, who have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them, had been present at the scene together with at least 10 other soldiers.
Earlier, the court heard how - shortly after he returned to his hangar billet - Bartlam witnessed L/Cpl Cooley torturing an Iraqi civilian who had been tied up in a cargo net and suspended from the prongs of a fork-lift truck. Bartlam said he fully realised that what he had witnessed was wrong. "I thought that NCOs shouldn't be doing that. But I thought it's wrong to stop NCOs from doing their job as it wasn't my job because I am only a fusilier.
"There wasn't anyone I could go to. I was too scared."
The three accused faces nine charges that include assault, disgraceful conduct of an indecent kind and prejudicing military order. They have pleaded not guilty to all but one of the charges
The court martial continues.