Iraq abuse

Army faces 20 more abuse claims from Iraqi civilians

High Court to hear cases against soldiers accused of shootings and beatings

The British Army faces 20 fresh claims of torture and abuse of Iraqi civilians in a series of damaging cases being prepared by human rights lawyers in the High Court in London.

These new claims lend support to the accusation that the ill-treatment of scores of detainees in Iraq in the first four years after the invasion was systemic rather than the work of a few "rotten apple" soldiers.

Next month a public inquiry will begin hearing evidence about the killing of a 26-year-old Basra hotel worker, Baha Mousa, who was kicked and beaten to death by British soldiers in 2003. The Ministry of Defence has already paid nearly £3 million to Mr Mousa's family and nine other victims of abuse detained at the same time.

The new cases could lead to a similar-sized Government pay-out for loss of life, personal injury and abuse.Among the claims is an allegation that a group of eight Iraqi men were "violently beaten" when a home was visited by British soldiers in August 2003.

The following year a son and his father allege they were shot and wounded by soldiers after a raid on their home. The son subsequently died of his injuries and his father lost his arm. Eight of his other sons were beaten "so ferociously by the soldiers that at least one brother lost consciousness," say the lawyers who took witness statements from the men this year.

In 2006 it is alleged that three more Iraqi civilians, held in separate incidents, were arrested and violently beaten.

In March 2008, the former Defence Secretary, Des Browne, admitted to "substantial breaches" of the European Convention of Human Rights over the killing of Baha Mousa. In July the same year the Ministry of Defence agreed to pay £2.83 million in compensation to Mr Mousa's family and nine other men.

The new cases are all being brought by human rights law firm, Public Interest Lawyers, who are acting for the family of Baha Mousa at the judicial inquiry as well as many other Iraqis who have brought cases against the British army for ill-treatment.

A statement from Public Interest Lawyers said: "In May of this year, lawyers from PIL travelled to Beirut to take witness statements from a number of other Iraqis who allege to have been ill-treated, arbitrarily detained and in some cases religiously humiliated and sexually abused by the British military. The cases documented span from the start of hostilities in March 2003 through to 2007 and it is understood that there are many more cases which are yet to be documented."

Phil Shiner, of PIL, said: "The details of the abuse and the use of coercive interrogation techniques (hooding, stressing, food and water deprivation) are all too familiar. With the ever-mounting evidence of repeated systemic abuse, the protests that these atrocities have been caused by a few rotten apples ring ever more hollow."

Mr Shiner now wants a broader judicial inquiry that will investigate all the allegations of abuse and the military practices used to arrest and detain Iraqis in the years after the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Said Mr Shiner: "On 15 June 2009, the Prime Minister announced the long-awaited inquiry into British involvement in Iraq. There has been very little comment since then of the need to address officially-sanctioned mistreatment and torture of detainees. This issue should not escape attention.

It is essential to evaluate what is now known of British military and intelligence practices in Iraq and elsewhere, so that they can be altered and further breaches forestalled."

Mr Shiner claims that the case of Baha Mousa exposed the "deficiencies in the military investigative apparatus and justice system." He says: "Soldiers investigating other soldiers' crimes only to be prosecuted by other soldiers before a panel of yet more soldiers is an insufficient way to satisfy modern calls for accountability."

Baha Mousa died in British custody in September 2003 after suffering 93 separate injuries including fractured ribs and a broken nose.

Mr Mousa's children, who were aged five and six at the time of his death were both left orphaned as their mother had died from cancer only a short time before his arrest. The Ministry of Defence said an amicable settlement had been reached which represented an admission of liability and had been accompanied by an apology to the men and their families.

During the discussions Lt Gen Freddie Viggers, the adjutant-general, told the families: "The British Army apologise for the appalling treatment that you suffered at the hands of the British Army. The appalling behaviour of British soldiers made us feel disgusted."

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said last night: "Over 120,000 British troops have served in Iraq and the vast majority have conducted themselves to the highest standards of behaviour. All allegations of abuse are investigated thoroughly and where proven, those responsible are punished and the complainants compensated. Allegations must not be taken as fact and formal investigations must be allowed to take their course without judgements being made prematurely."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Reimagined: Gwyneth Paltrow and Toni Collette in the film adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma
books
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
Cannes 2015Dheepan, film review
Sport
sport
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine