UK War Crimes court hears evidence from dead victim

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

A war crimes court trying seven British servicemen heard written evidence from Mr Kifah Taha Musa Mutairi, one of eleven Iraqi detainees allegedly abused by British soldiers in a detention camp in Basra in 2003. The court is also hearing evidence relating to the death, in custody, of an Iraqi hotel receptionist Mr. Baha Musa.

Mr. Mutairi died in what is said to have been an unrelated incident, when the roof of his house fell on him.

The court martial now in its fifth week, heard how Mr Mutari said he was treated three years ago in a holding camp in Basra. In written testimony, he said that prisoners had been given names of famous footballers and had been punished if they did not answer to them, even when woken from sleep.

The prisoners, hooded and handcuffed, were beaten and kicked in the style of a kickboxer. Mr Mutari testified that when he was kicked in this manner, he feared he would be beaten to death without any mercy whatever.

He said that petrol had been rubbed on his nose and that he had been threatened with a lit cigarette lighter held close to his head, being told that he would be burned.

The death of hotel receptionist, Mr Baha Musa (26), another of the prisoners is of concern to the court. Mr Mutari's statement referred to how Mr Musa was treated, saying that he was beaten and constantly crying out in pain. It is said that British soldiers found arms, including grenades, AK47 rifles and Soviet uniforms, in the hotel where he was the receptionist.

One of the accused, Corporal Donald Payne (35), has already pleaded guilty to crimes under the International Criminal Court Act 2001. The other defendants include Colonel Mendonca who is accused of failing to ensure that the detainees were not ill treated.

All the accused were members of The Queen's Lancashire Regiment, now The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment.

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