Soldiers filmed beating Iraqis avoid prosecution

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The Independent Online

A group of British soldierswho were filmed while beating Iraqi civilians will not face criminal charges.

The decision was taken by the military's prosecuting body, despite investigators finding enough evidence to support prosecutions for assault and battery against two of the soldiers.

The Army Prosecuting Authority (APA) said that charges of battery had a six- month period of limitation and had in this case become inapplicable because the alleged offences, at al-Amarah, took place in April 2004, and did not come to light until February 2006 when the video footage appeared in the media. But the APA also acknowledged that there appeared to be "realistic chances of conviction" against two others on charges of conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline. The soldiers are said to have abused the body of a dead Iraqi civilian, while providing "amusing" commentary for the video.

"But the APA took the view that the public interest did not require them to be tried by court martial," the authority said. Instead, the men are likely to face internal disciplinary hearings which will not be open to the public. The Ministry of Defence said yesterday that "it is not the MoD's policy to comment on internal disciplinary action".

Elsewhere in the film, soldiers are shown punching, kicking and headbutting four young Iraqis who had been arrested during a riot. Other soldiers appeared to pass by without making any attempts to stop the mistreatment. As the Iraqis plead for mercy, one soldier is heard shouting: "Ooh yes! Ooh yes! You're going to get it. Naughty little boys, you little fuckers... die, ha, ha."

The video was shown first on BBC. It was then broadcast by the Arab channel al-Jazeera as an example of British brutality. Riyadh Mahoud, the governor of al-Amarah, said Iraqi authorities would help the beaten men take legal action. "Even if the British apologise to the victims and their families, it is not enough," he said.