British Soldiers Accused Of Torturing Iraqi
British soldiers accused of torturing and abusing Iraqi
prisoners who were captured in firefight
By The Daily Mail
Mail" -- -- The High Court today lifted a
gagging order stopping the media reporting allegations of
torture and brutality by British troops in Iraq.
Soldiers are said to have captured 31 Iraqis following an ambush
in May 2004 before killing 22 and leaving only nine injured
survivors after detaining them at military headquarters in Abu
However reporting restrictions imposed earlier on by the court
have now been lifted following a petition by several national
newspapers and the BBC.
It has been claimed the men were seized by the British Army
following a firefight on the road from Amara to Basra, near
Majar al-Kabir in south-east Iraq.
Iraqi families and survivors are seeking compensation and a
ruling at a High Court hearing, due to start in the near future,
that the Government is legally obliged to set up an independent
inquiry into the incident.
Death certificates to go before the court are said to state that
corpses of Iraqis rounded up showed signs of "mutilation" and
Lawyers investigating the allegations say the testimonies of
five witnesses to the events "combine to give a harrowing
account of what took place".
The Ministry of Defence has denied there was evidence of
wrongdoing by soldiers, including the deliberate mutilation of
Lawyers Phil Shiner and Martyn Day of Leigh Day are representing
They travelled out to Istanbul earlier this month to meet with
some of the alleged survivors and the other witnesses to the
Mr Shiner said today: "The testimonies of these five men taken
over five days in Istanbul by myself and Martyn contain shocking
material and combine to give a harrowing account of what took
"I have never heard such evidence in nearly 30 years of being a
Martyn Day said: "Phil and I are clear that what took place in
Majar is of massive consequence not just for the British Army
and the British Government but for the British people.
"Today is the first step in ensuring what happened in Majar is
brought out into the open."
The fresh allegations of brutality by UK forces come after it
was announced that no one will be held responsible for the
killing of Iraqi civilian Baha Mousa who was beaten to death in
Army custody five years ago.
The decision was branded a shameful indictment of the way
politicians, the military and its prosecuting authority dealt
with the tragic case.
And now the MoD faces further pressure after it failed to keep
secret these new alllegations of abuse by British troops.
The gagging order blocked the naming of any of the Iraqi
claimants, or the telling of their stories, until a final
decision was taken on whether there will be any criminal
prosecutions against any soldiers.
The ban was imposed last December by Lord Justice Thomas,
sitting with Mr Justice Silber, after the Ministry of Defence
confirmed the possibility of criminal prosecutions.
Lord Justice Thomas said "adverse publicity" arising from the
civil High Court case would be "highly undesirable".
But today, in an extraordinary judicial clash of views, another
senior judge, Lord Justice Moses - also sitting with Mr Justice
Silber - overturned the ban "in its entirety".
He ruled there was "ample material" to support the proposition
that the proceedings to be brought in the High Court should be
"in the public domain", and ample authority "for the good
reasons why that should be so".
The MoD had wanted to keep secret the names of the Army
regiments allegedly involved.
But Lord Justice Moses ruled there was no basis for keeping
secret the names of those who were subject to investigation.
The possibility of there being any prosecution was "far too
remote", said the judge, and there was certainly no statutory
prohibition on the publication of names.
Mr Justice Silber said: "For the reasons given by (Lord Justice
Moses), I agree with him."
The BBC's Panorama programme, which is preparing an item on the
Majar incident, welcomed today's ruling.
Deputy editor Frank Simmonds said: "Panorama is very pleased
with the judgment as it clears the way for a more constructive
dialogue with the MoD on matters of clear public interest."
During the hearing, Lord Justice Moses said it was "barmy" that
it had taken so long for the military authorities to investigate
what had happened at Majar in 2004.
He said: "It is not fair on them (the soldiers) as well as on
Jonathan Swift, appearing for the MoD, said fresh investigations
had become necessary as a result of the witness statements made
by the Iraqi claimants in the pending High Court hearing.
He said he was only seeking to uphold the gagging order in so
far as it prohibited the naming of the regiments involved.
The judge said: "It is not the way it works. If you are right
then it is one rule for the MoD and another rule for the
Mr Swift said he was not suggesting there should be different
rules for different categories, but a no-names order was
necessary in the present case "on a precautionary basis" because
possible criminal proceedings could be undermined by publicity.
But the judge said: "There is nothing unusual in this case in
relation to the disclosure of the identity of someone who is
being investigated and where there remains the possibility of
future criminal proceedings."
There was no basis for an order that there should not be
disclosure of those who were subject to investigation.
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