Seven British soldiers face war crimes charges

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

The first charges under the new U.K. International Criminal Court Act have been brought against seven British servicemen. The charges relate to the mistreatment of civilians and the death of Baha Mousa (26) a hotel receptionist in Basra in 2003.

The charges include manslaughter, inhumane treatment, causing actual bodily harm, and common assault of Iraqi civilians. A Warrant Officer and a Major in the British Intelligence Corps and the former commander of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment (now the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment) are charged with negligently performing duties.

The first British serviceman to give evidence, a senior aircraftsman in the RAF, testified that he saw prisoners with bags over their heads being kicked and verbally abused. He said that he had never seen anything like it before and didn't know what to do. He had not intervened "because they (the soldiers) were bigger than me, and I didn't know what their orders were".

The court martial at the Military Court Centre, Bulford Camp, Wiltshire continues.