Met rejects request to investigate Iraqi deaths

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The Independent Online

The Metropolitan Police are not prepared to investigate allegations that British troops tortured and murdered Iraqi detainees, lawyers said.

The Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth, recently agreed that a fresh investigation was necessary, at a High Court hearing in London, because of government failings in disclosing documents to the court. The court had been hearing a legal challenge over the Ministry of Defence's refusal to set up an independent inquiry into the deaths in southern Iraq in 2004.

Three judges criticised the department for wasting time and for the "vast expense" incurred by the hearing. They are expected to give a formal ruling tomorrow and also ask for an update on progress in setting up an inquiry.

The Met were asked if they would take charge of the inquiry but Public Interest Lawyers, acting on behalf of the Iraqis seeking the inquiry, said the Met had indicated it was not prepared to do so. Another possibility under consideration is a judicial inquiry.

An inquiry would investigate allegations that up to 20 Iraqis were murdered and mutilated at Camp Abu Naji, a British base, after a fire fight between British soldiers and Iraqi insurgents. Five other Iraqis say they were subjected to ill treatment at the base. The MoD denies the allegations.