UK violated jailed Iraqis' rights

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The Independent Online

The Government was found guilty yesterday of violating the human rights of two Iraqis accused of murdering two captive British soldiers in 2003.

Faisal Al Saadoon and Khalaf Mufdhi, former officials of Saddam Hussein's Baath party, have been detained for six years and are currently held in Rusafa jail near Baghdad. The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg unanimously found the pair were "at real risk of being subjected to an unfair trial followed by execution by hanging" in Iraq, reversing a decision made at the High Court in London.

Saadoon and Mufdhi are accused of killing two British bomb disposal experts within days of the US-led invasion. On 23 March 2003, Sapper Luke Allsopp and Staff Sergeant Simon Cullingworth were dragged from their vehicles, taken to an intelligence base, shot and filmed as they lay dying. Their bodies were found a month later.

Saadoon, 57, and Mufdhi, 59, have waged a long-running legal battle, arguing that the British Army was wrong to hand them over to Iraqi officials for trial in 2008. They say the transfer put them at risk of torture and hanging after the Iraqi National Assembly reintroduced the death penalty in 2004. The two were tried by an Iraqi court in 2009 and cleared, but remain in jail pending an appeal by prosecutors.

The Strasbourg court awarded them €40,000 (£36,000) in costs, saying their "mental suffering caused by the fear of execution amounted to inhuman treatment". The Government said it was considering the court's verdict.