Officer 'hit Iraqi prisoner'

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The Independent Online

A former British soldier told an investigation into the death of an Iraqi civilian that he was "disgusted" at the brutality of a senior officer towards a prisoner. In evidence to the Baha Mousa inquiry yesterday, the soldier alleged his commanding officer at the time, Colonel Jorge Mendonca, punched the man in the face in front of more than 100 Army personnel after a raid on a derelict building.

The witness, identified only as S038, led search teams during a tour of Iraq from June to October 2003. He said: "I was disgusted. A CO is supposed to lead by example. I went into the Burma Company office and aired my views. I said something along the lines of: 'That was bang out of order.'"

According to the witness, shortly afterwards he was having a cup of coffee in the Company Office when he heard "jeering".

"I went outside to find that all three prisoners had been assaulted; one of their noses was burst and the others were bleeding from their lips," he said.

He told the inquiry he suspected the assault was carried out by a female soldier, who was ordered inside by an officer.