Video Shows British Army Officer Screaming at Hooded Iraqi Civilians

By Daily Mail Reporter

July 16, 2009 "Daily Mail" -- Shocking images of the abuse of Iraqi civilians by British soldiers were shown for the first time yesterday at the start of a public inquiry into the death of Baha Mousa.

Detainees say troops made them scream in pain in an 'orchestrated choir' and dance like Michael Jackson.

The men were scalded with boiling water, urinated on, kicked, punched and hooded while in British military custody, the hearing chaired by retired Court of Appeal judge Sir William Gage was told.

Grabs from a video shown to the inquiry of a British soldier shouting at Iraqi civilian detainees being held in custody during the war

Hooded: Grabs from a video shown to the inquiry of a British soldier shouting at Iraqi civilian detainees being held in custody during the war

Corporal Donald Payne, who was jailed for inhumane treatment in 2007, is seen swearing at prisoners who are being forced to hold 'stress positions'

Corporal Donald Payne, who was jailed for inhumane treatment in 2007, is seen swearing at prisoners who are being forced to hold 'stress positions'

Gordon Brown ordered the full judicial inquiry into Mr Mousa's death after a 10million court martial in September 2006 failed to identify the soldiers responsible.

Corporal Donald Payne, formerly of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, became the first member of the Armed Forces to admit a war crime when he pleaded guilty to treating civilians inhumanely.

In April 2007 he was jailed for a year in a civilian prison and sacked from the Army.

Six other soldiers were later cleared of any wrongdoing in relation to the charges.

In his opening address yesterday, Gerard Elias QC, counsel to the inquiry, said the treatment of other detainees and the Ministry of Defence's role would be considered.

He added: 'We propose to follow the chain of command from the soldier on the ground up as far as it leads us, with a view to establishing who knew what, who did not know and - where appropriate - who ought to have known.'

A one-minute video showed six hooded Iraqi men groaning and whimpering in pain as they were forced to squat with their knees bent and their hands outstretched in agonising 'stress positions' while Payne screamed abuse at them.

Died in custody: Baha Mousa with his wife and two children

Baha Mousa, pictured with his wife and children, was being detained by soldiers from the former Queen's Lancashire Regiment in Basra at the time of his death

Inquiry officials refused to reveal the origin of the video, which is thought to have been filmed by a colleague of Payne's, but said it would be dealt with later in evidence.

It was shown at Payne's court martial, but has never been made public.

The footage shows him apparently calling one detainee a 'f***ing ape' at a British military base.

The men were made to stand with their backs against the wall of a bare room, their legs bent and their arms tied with plastic handcuffs.

Gerard Elias QC

Inquiry: Gerard Elias QC arriving for the hearing yesterday

As they slipped down the wall, unable to sustain the agonising squat position, Payne stood over them, shouting: 'Get up, get up!'

Hotel receptionist Mr Mousa, 26, died within 36 hours of being taken into custody in Basra, southern Iraq, on September 14, 2003.

The widowed father-of-two received 93 injuries, including a broken nose and ribs.

A post-mortem found he died from asphyxia, possibly caused by the stress positions.

Mr Mousa was seen struggling with Corporal Payne and a second soldier as they tried to restrain and handcuff him, shortly before his death on September 15.

Mr Elias said the inquiry would hear evidence that some of the hotel worker's injuries were inflicted deliberately, and were not simply the result of the struggle.

He said: 'It has been suggested that Baha Mousa's head was banged on the floor or wall as this was happening, but statements to this inquiry now suggest perhaps a greater degree of deliberation than has hitherto been described.'

Mr Elias detailed abuses the men said soldiers from the Queen's Lancashire Regiment inflicted on them.

He said: 'The detainees were hooded with hessian sandbags, they were placed in stress positions - postures causing physical discomfort or pain without necessarily causing physical injury.

Baha Mousa

Catalogue of injuries: Baha Mousa died while in the custody of British troops

'They were prevented from sleeping-they were subjected to loud noises. There is evidence that they were not properly fed or watered.'

Some said their hands were burned with scalding water and one claimed he was 'made to dance in the style of Michael Jackson', the inquiry was told.

Mr Elias claimed the screams of the detainees in the temporary detention facility (TDF) could be heard by passers-by, adding: 'There was shouting, moaning, even screaming coming from the TDF during the detention, according to some witnesses.

'And the inquiry will hear scandalous accounts of an orchestrated choir of victims' reactions.'

Hooding and stress positions are among the so-called 'conditioning methods' used to soften up prisoners before interrogation.

They were banned by the Government in 1972, following allegations of the abuse of IRA suspects in Northern Ireland. The then Prime Minister Ted Heath said they would never be used again.

But Mr Elias said the hearing, which is being held in London, would examine claims that soldiers used them in Iraq with the approval of their superior officers.

Controversially, Attorney General Baroness Scotland has said soldiers who appear as witnesses to the inquiry will not have their evidence used against them in any future criminal proceedings.

Mr Mousa's family and colleagues are expected to give evidence in September. The hearing continues.

  • Critics question the need for an inquiry into Mr Mousa's death, which has already been examined by a court martial and a High Court case. They fear the hearing, which cost 3.5million to set up, will find little or no new evidence but will cost taxpayers tens of millions of pounds. The Ministry of Defence has already agreed to pay his family compensation. Gerard Elias QC warned Mr Mousa's death could be a recruiting sergeant for insurgents and put soldiers at risk of revenge attacks. Therefore, he said, the incident must be seen to be investigated in a 'comprehensive, fair way'.



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