Baha Mousa's killer to speak at inquiry

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The Independent Online

The only soldier to be convicted in relation to the death of the Iraqi hotel worker Baha Mousa is to give evidence at a public inquiry in London today.

Donald Payne, a former corporal in the British Army, will be quizzed over the abuse suffered by Mr Mousa. Mr Mousa, 26, below, was arrested at the Haitham Hotel in Basra on 14 September 2003 by members of the 1st Battalion The Queen's Lancashire Regiment (QLR). He was held at a temporary detention centre, and died two days after his arrest. A post-mortem examination found he had suffered asphyxiation and at least 93 injuries.

A six-month court martial concluded in April 2007. Six members of the QLR were cleared of abusing detainees, but a seventh admitted inhumane treatment. Donald Payne, 36, was jailed for a year and dismissed from the Army.

Last week the inquiry heard evidence from other soldiers who named the men they believed were responsible for the abuse. Ex-soldier Garry Reader identified Donald Payne and Private Aaron Cooper. Former Private Reader, who left the Army in 2007, told the inquiry that he had entered the building where Mr Mousa was held.

"He looked dazed," he said. Mr Mousa's hands were tied with plastic handcuffs. "I don't believe he was a threat. I do not even believe he was trying to escape, I just think he was injured and wanted help," he recalled.

"One of them was trying to get the sandbag on his head. Baha Mousa was struggling. I saw Payne and Cooper kicking and hitting him." He said he later found Mr Mousa sitting with his head slumped. He shook him but got no response.

Explaining why he was telling the story now, Mr Reader said: "At the court martial I was still a serving soldier with a family. I wanted to protect my family."