British soldiers face new charges of Iraq brutality

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British soldiers called hooded Iraqi detainees by footballers' names as they kicked and beat them, The Independent on Sunday has been told. One of the Iraqis subsequently died.

British soldiers called hooded Iraqi detainees by footballers' names as they kicked and beat them, The Independent on Sunday has been told. One of the Iraqis subsequently died.

Kifah Taha, a hotel worker who suffered acute renal failure after being kicked by soldiers during questioning, said each of the Iraqis was given a nickname.

"They called us by the names of footballers," he said, "and kept telling us to repeat them, so we would remember who we were."

One of Mr Taha's hotel colleagues, Baha Mousa, a 26-year-old receptionist, died in custody after being arrested with seven of his colleagues in Basra last September by troops from the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, based in Catterick in North Yorkshire.

The Ministry of Defence said last week that reports of a possible manslaughter charge were "speculation".

The MoD is investigating the previously unreported death in British custody of Ather Karen al-Mowafakiaon 29 April last year. Officials say his death was listed separately from six other deaths in custody because it occurred before the end of the Iraq war.

Adam Price, a Plaid Cymru MP, said he had been warned off visiting Basra next month to make further inquiries.

"I will be given no protection and my safety cannot be guaranteed," he said. "The Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, has told me that if I do go I 'will be killed'.There seems to be a deliberate attempt to prevent the information reaching the public domain - because these are embarrassing headlines."

A spokesman for the MoD denied it was dragging its feet or preventing information reaching the public. "We're talking to witnesses in Iraq and people in the UK," he said.

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