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UK: British "Abu Ghraib" hearing next week


The UK was accused of pursuing a policy of systematic torture over a five-year period and breaking international laws of war during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

There will be a hearing next week to review the fresh charges against Britain at the high court in London, led by civil rights lawyers, as the 10th anniversary of the invasion nears this March.

The Public Interest Lawyers group, founded by Phil Shiner, has conducted face-to-face interviews in Lebanon with Iraqi survivors, and the relatives of those unlawfully killed, that claim to have been tortured and abused by British intelligence officers and soldiers.

In addition to reports of beatings and other forms of violence, witness statements include sexual depravity, insults to Islam, masturbating over a prisoner, female interrogators stripping for information, and sodomy with the finger, according to an article in The Guardian.

Others were deprived of sleep, starved, threatened with execution, and subjected to sensory deprivation.

Even though many died after beatings, they were said to have died of “natural causes,” the article reports.

The public hearing, to take place on January 29 over three days and expected to shed light on a "systematic" abuse by the British army, follows an inquiry into the death of Baha Moussa, an innocent hotel worker killed in Basra in 2003, while in British custody.

In the case put forth by the Shiner and his colleagues, the army doctor in charge at the time of reporting ill-treatment along with ensuring the well-being of other prisoners, was found guilty of misconduct and banned from practicing medicine.

The doctor had only reported a small trace of dried blood under Moussa’s nostril but the civilian, in custody for 36 hours, had been hooded for 24 of those hours and was found to have suffered at least 93 external injuries prior to his death according to a post-mortem examination.

Linked to the case, Cpl Donald Payne was dismissed from the Army and jailed for a year, while seven others admitted to inhumane treatment.

The video below depicts a British soldier yelling abusively at hooded Iraqi hostages and had been shown at the public inquiry into the death of Baha Mousa.

The Public Interest Lawyers group has so far collected 180 statements for the end-January inquiry, and it is expected that they will present a total of 1051 at the public hearing.

Interviews were conducted in Lebanon where the “travel formalities are more straightforward.” The witnesses were located and encouraged to cooperate by a “local Iraqi citizen” and then interviewed in Lebanon, where statements were drawn up using “high-quality interpreters” according to a transcript of a public hearing.

Shiner and his colleagues are currently representing 130 former detainees who say that “they or their family members were unlawfully detained, ill-treated, or killed by UK forces” during the war on Iraq.

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