Al-Sweady inquiry: Iraqi father says bodies handed over by UK soldiers showed signs of torture

 

The father of an Iraqi teenager claimed today that his son's body showed signs of torture after it was handed back by British troops following a brutal battle.

On the eve of the tenth anniversary of the invasion, the first Iraqi witnesses began giving evidence before the long awaited Al-Sweady inquiry.

The father of 19-year-old Hamid Al-Sweady, after whom the inquiry was named, claimed that he saw mutilated bodies with eyes plucked out, tongues cut out, noses cut off and teeth removed.

Mizal Karim Al-Sweady, the first of 15 Iraqi witnesses to be flown to Britain to give evidence, later changed some of his claims, saying he saw just one body with eyes missing and one with a broken nose. The London hearing was told there were discrepancies between statements he had given to Iraqi Police, the Royal Military Police (RMP) and the inquiry itself.

Ordered in 2009 after then defence secretary Bob Ainsworth conceded the need for a fresh investigation, the year-long inquiry will examine allegations soldiers killed detainees after a fire fight with Shia insurgents, which became known as the battle of Danny Boy, near Majar al-Kabir in May 2004. It will also look into claims five detainees were ill treated both at Camp Abu Naji and later at a detention facility at Shaibah Logistics Base over a period of four months.

Yesterday Mr Al-Sweady said on the afternoon of the battle, his son went into fields to study for a physics exam. When he did not come home, he became “frantic” with worry and spent several hours searching farmland by torchlight.

The following day, when corpses of a number of Iraqis were released by British forces and taken to hospital, Mr Al-Sweady searched through the body bags to find his son.

In his statement to the inquiry, Mr Al-Sweady said that when he found his son's body, the jaw was dislocated, but his eyes were intact. He had a bullet wound in the middle of his neck and marks around his neck resembling a necklace, with the skin apparently burnt, as if he had been electrocuted with electric wire. The statement added that his son's right arm was completely fractured, his chest had “blueness” and bruises over it, and he had been shot in the right foot.

His statement also described a variety of injuries allegedly sustained by more than 20 Iraqis: “I saw a combination of injuries such as: eyes missing, tongues cut out, noses cut off, teeth removed, bodies had been distorted and mutilated and covered in blood.”

However, Mr Al-Sweady's statement to the Royal Military Police investigation made no mention that his son had a fractured jaw, marks to his neck or blueness to the face and chest, while the teenager's death certificate did not document marking to the neck or blueness on his chest, the inquiry was told.

It also heard that his earlier statements to Iraqi Police and the RMP did not mention apparent mutilation of other bodies.

When asked why, Mr Al-Sweady said: “I did mention this to the British police and to the Iraqi police. I talked about eyes being plucked as well.”

But he admitted he had not opened 28 body bags as earlier stated.

Counsel to the inquiry Jonathan Acton Davis QC told him: “The inquiry has been unable to find any other evidence which suggests that tongues were cut out or noses cut off. Are you sure you saw that Mr Al-Sweady?”

“Yes I am sure I saw eyes plucked out and noses broken,” he replied.

But Mr Al-Sweady, who denied that his son was a member of Iraq's Shia militia the Mahdi Army, conceded he had seen just two bodies with the eye and nose injuries: “One had a nose broken and the other had eyes plucked out.”

Neil Garnham QC, representing hundreds of soldiers involved in the case, said two statements from Mr Al-Sweady and from his wife to Iraqi police were “almost identical words, including the fact that you are described as a housewife, and the female pronoun 'she' is used to describe what you say.”

“You have been asked by Mr Acton Davis about a number of discrepancies in the evidence you have given to this inquiry, to the Iraqi police and to the Royal Military Police,” Mr Garnham said.

“Mr Al-Sweady, might the explanation for the discrepancies that Mr Acton Davis has pointed out be that you have been untruthful in some or all of the accounts that you have given?”

Mr Al-Sweady replied: “There should be no differences between them, I was on oath and I said what I believed was the truth and I don't take what others are saying as true.”

The inquiry later heard from medical assistant Assad Mozan, who was dispatched to help injured Iraqis after the battle. He claims he recognised three of the detainees – including Hamid Al-Sweady and his close friend Ali Mowat – alive in British custody the day before their bodies were handed over to relatives.

Questioning his account, Mr Acton Davis pointed to major discrepancies in his statements and the fact that when he spoke to the BBC and the Royal Military Police in 2005, he insisted he could not identify any of the detainees because he was either too far away or their heads were covered.

“By 2007 your recollection is such that you are able to identify these three men (to another BBC programme),” Mr Acton Davis queried.

Mr Mozan claimed that the divergence arose from the fact that he had been “nervous” in the initial interview: “When I spoke to the BBC in 2005, British forces were still occupying Iraq. I wanted to avoid mentioning names.”

Mr Acton Davis pointed out that he did not appear nervous about accusing British troops of treating the bodies in a “disgraceful, disgusting” manner in the same interview.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat