Lawyer calls for independent inquiry into abuse of Iraqis by British troops

Lawyer calls for independent inquiry into abuse of Iraqis by British troops

(AP) - LONDON-A lawyer representing nine Iraqis who say they were beaten and humiliated by British troops called Wednesday for an independent inquiry into the abuse.

Attorney Phil Shiner said that if no inquiry were held, the men could sue the British government for damages.

Earlier this year, four low-ranking soldiers were court martialed and received prison sentences of between five months and two years for the abuse at Camp Bread Basket, near Basra.

Pictures of the abuse - which included an Iraqi hoisted on a forklift and two naked men simulating sex - provoked outrage in Britain.

The victims were not identified and did not testify at the court martial on a British military base in Germany. Military police said they had been unable to locate them.

But Shiner said he informed the Army Prosecuting Authority during the court martial that he had spoken to three of the victims. He said he was rebuffed by prosecutors.

"Here there is the clearest evidence that the military are incapable of prosecuting and investigating themselves," Shiner said at a press conference Wednesday. "If they are allowed to, all we get is a whitewash and a few bad apples thrown to the dogs."

Shiner said he had witness statements from nine of the men, who say they were rounded up as part of an anti-theft operation dubbed "Operation Ali Baba" in May 2003.

One, fisherman Hassan Kadhim Abdul-Hussein, said he was the man photographed suspended from the forklift. In his statement, he said soldiers beat him "with fists, boots, wooden sticks and iron bars." Another of the men, Aqeel Jassim Mohammad, said a soldier had kicked him in the genitals, and a doctor had subsequently told him he would be unable to have children.

Shiner said he would give Attorney General Lord Goldsmith 14 days to respond to the demand for an independent public inquiry before taking legal action.


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