Dead suspect ‘covered in bruises’
By Cameron Simpson
Herald" - - BAHA Musa was rounded up with six other men during a night raid on suspected Ba'ath party activists in the southern Iraqi city of Basra in 2003.
Four days after the sweep, his father, Dawood, was asked to identify his body at Camp Steven, one of a number of UK military detention centres around the city.
His father claimed the corpse was covered in blood, the nose broken, and the skin on the face torn.
"There were bruises on his neck and all over his body, one wrist was fractured and the flesh exposed where handcuffs had been applied too tightly.
A sergeant told me a rope had been put around his neck," he said.
Last night, nearly two years on, three men became the first British troops to be charged with alleged war crimes from the Iraq conflict.
Lord Goldsmith, the British attorney general, announced that the troops face charges under the International Criminal Court Act 2001 in connection with events surrounding the death of Musa, 26, a hotel receptionist.
One of the men, Corporal Donald Payne, 34, of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, is charged with Musa's manslaughter and with the war crime of treating him inhumanely.
Goldsmith also announced that four soldiers would face a court martial charged with the manslaughter of Ahmed Jabbar Kareem Ali, a 17-year-old Iraqi civilian. British troops arrested the teenager and three others for suspected looting in Basra on May 8, 2003.
The soldiers allegedly punched and kicked the suspects and forced them to swim in a canal. Kareem Ali could not swim and drowned.
Also charged with manslaughter were Sergeant Carle Selman, 38, of the Scots Guards; Guardsman Martin McGing, 21, Guardsman Joseph McCleary, 23, both of the Irish Guards; and another soldier whose name was not released.
Last night, John Reid, British defence secretary, said he and the chiefs of staff were proud of the British armed forces.
"They do an exceptional job in very difficult circumstances and operate to the very highest standards, as the British public rightly expects.
This is precisely why, if there are allegations that UK armed forces personnel have failed to maintain these high standards, they should be properly investigated and, if appropriate, prosecutions should be brought.
"Anyone accused is innocent until proved guilty and it is for the courts martial to consider the evidence in any case and reach a verdict.
"Inhuman treatment of a person protected by the Geneva Conventions has been an offence under English law since 1957."
Earlier this year, a military review body reduced the sentences of two soldiers imprisoned for abusing Iraqi civilians in a case that drew comparisons with the Abu Ghraib prison scandal involving US forces.
Both were found guilty of abusing Iraqi civilians suspected of looting in May 2003.
Their trials in Germany focused on photographs taken of the abuse, which included dangling a man from a forklift.
The photos provoked outrage in Britain, with Tony Blair calling the images shocking and appalling.
The Queen's Lancashire Regiment previously found itself at the centre of a furore after the Daily Mirror printed photographs purporting to show its soldiers abusing Iraqi civilians. The pictures were later discredited.
Two US reports detailed at least 44 incidents of abuse at Abu Ghraib.
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