British army cleared of torturing Iraqi to death

August 28th, 2011 - 4:55 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 28 (IANS) An inquiry into the death of an Iraqi national in British custody in Iraq has cleared the army of systematic torture, according to a media report.

But individual soldiers will be accused of dereliction of duty, and the army’s command chain will be criticised, the Sunday Telegraph said of the report to be released Sep 8.

A judge probed into claims that British troops beat hotel receptionist Baha Mousa to death in 2003.

Mousa was arrested, along with nine other Iraqis, at the Haitham Hotel in Basra in September 2003 by the 1st Battalion of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment (QLR).

Mousa was held at a detention centre under suspicion of being an insurgent. He died two days after his arrest.

A post-mortem examination found he had suffered asphyxiation and at least 93 injuries on his body, including fractured ribs and a broken nose.

The ministry of defence has said more than 100,000 service personnel served in Iraq and the vast majority conducted themselves with “extraordinary courage, professionalism and decency in very demanding circumstances”.

Nevertheless, the actions that led to Mousa’s death were “shameful and inexcusable”, it said, adding that the ministry would look carefully at the inquiry report.

A six-month court martial concluded in April 2007.

Six members of the QLR were cleared of abusing civilian detainees, but a seventh admitted inhumane treatment. Corporal Donald Payne was jailed for a year and dismissed from the army.

In 2008, then defence secretary Des Browne announced a public inquiry. The inquiry began hearing evidence in July 2009. It sat for 115 days and heard evidence from 247 witnesses, and 101 other witnesses provided written statements.

It was told British soldiers used on Iraqi prisoners methods such as hooding, sleep deprivation and making them stand in painful stress positions.

An unnamed senior army officer said: “The inquiry has found no evidence of systematic abuse because there wasn’t any.”

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