Iraqis will face war crimes trial

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The Independent Online

Two Iraqis accused of killing British soldiers can be lawfully handed over to the authorities in Baghdad to be tried for war crimes, the High Court has ruled. Faisal al-Saadoon, 56, and Khalaf Mufdhi, 58, who have been held by British forces in Basra for five years, have opposed the transfer on the grounds that they would be in danger of torture and the death penalty.

Both men are accused of murdering Staff Sergeant Simon Cullingworth and Sapper Luke Allsopp during the war in 2003. Phil Shiner, the solicitor representing Mr Saadoon and Mr Mufdhi, said: "We are disappointed by the final decision that it would be lawful for our clients to be transferred to the Iraqi Higher Tribunal in Baghdad, despite the fact that our clients face a real risk of the death penalty if convicted by the Iraqi Higher Tribunal. We will be challenging the decision to the Court of Appeal." The men, believed to be the last two Iraqis held in British custody, were arrested at the end of the war and then moved between three prison camps in southern Iraq. They claim to have been secretly detained without charge and refused legal representation. In a letter smuggled out of Iraq, and seen by The Independent, the men called on the British Government to release them or give them a fair trial. The men, both members of the Baath party, deny any involvement in the fighting and claim they have been trapped in a legal black hole, similar to the one created by the US at Guantanamo Bay to deal with so-called battlefield unlawful combatants.