British military used "appalling violence" against Iraqi civilians
The violent death in British military custody of an innocent Iraqi civilian in 2003 demonstrates the "corporate failure" by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in flouting a ban on questionable interrogation techniques, a report published Thursday said.
An independent inquiry set up to investigate the death of hotel worker Baha Mousa in Basra, southern Iraq, in September, 2003, said the violence inflicted on him could not be described as a "one-off."
The 26-year-old father-of-two died after suffering an "appalling episode of serious gratuitous violence" which represented a "very serious breach" of army discipline, DPA reported.
A former leading commanding officer, Colonel Jorge Mendonca, bore a "heavy responsibility" for the tragedy, said the report, compiled by William Gage, a retired judge.
The report, complied in part on the basis of testimony from witnesses, said a "large number" of soldiers assaulted Mousa - and nine others detained with him - over a period of 36 hours, inflicting 93 separate injuries on him.
There had been a "lack of moral courage" to report the abuse, it stated. "Many others, including several officers, must have known what is happening.
The violence was in clear violation of British government rules, drawn up in connection with the Northern Ireland conflict in 1972, which banned practices like "hooding" and making prisoners adopt so-called stress positions.
The Mousa case has been held up as a symbolic example of the alleged maltreatment of civilians during the Iraq conflict, which human rights group said was widespread.
In 2006, six soldiers were tried in a court martial over the case. But only one, ex-Corporal Donald Payne, was convicted of a war crime after admitting to the inhumane treatment of civilians. He was sentenced to one year in jail.