'Independent' story sparks new inquiry

The Ministry of Defence is launching an official investigation into claims by five men that they were the victims of abuse by British soldiers at Camp Bread Basket.

The inquiry was announced after The Independent tracked down five men who claimed to have been those whose mistreatment - including sexual humiliation - was the subject of "trophy photographs'' by troops.

The Royal Military Police has maintained that the reason for the absence of evidence - written or in person - from the victims, the most critical witnesses at the court martial, was that it was unable to trace them.

An MoD spokesman said: "The information in the article is not being ignored. The Special Investigation Branch of the Royal Military Police is reviewing the material and has instigated an investigation which will look at the allegations and act on any substantive evidence.''

A senior defence source said: "We are taking the matter seriously. However, it must be stressed that an extremely thorough inquiry was carried out at many different levels at the time. It is good that if these are the right men that they have come forward. One has to wonder why they've come forward now.''

The alleged victims - Ali Radhi Kassim, 24; Muthannar Jaseem Mahmud, 23; Hassan Kardham Abdulhussein, 23; Ra'aidh Hassan Abdulhussein, 33; and Ra'aidh Attaya Ali, 29, say that no officials had contacted them about the abuse.. This is despite the fact that they all lived only just over a mile from Camp Bread Basket on the outskirts of Basra in southern Iraq.