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UK ARMY PROBES ALLEGED TORTURE IN IRAQ
By Michael Holden
April 30, 2004
LONDON - A probe has been launched into allegations British soldiers
tortured Iraqi prisoners, a day after similar revelations involving U.S.
troops received widespread condemnation.
Britain's army chief General Sir Mike Jackson ordered an immediate inquiry
after it emerged that the Daily Mirror in its Saturday editions was to
publish photos of British soldiers abusing prisoners.
The paper told Reuters the images included one of a British soldier
urinating on a crouching, hooded Iraqi.
"I am aware of the allegations which have been made today of abuse of
prisoners by British soldiers in Iraq," Jackson said in a statement.
"The allegations are already under investigation. If proven not only is such
appalling conduct clearly unlawful it clearly contravenes the British army's
"If proven the perpetrators are not fit to wear the queen's uniform. They
have besmirched the good name of the army and its honour."
The British probe comes after U.S. President George W. Bush said he was
"deeply disgusted" by photos released this week showing American troops
abusing Iraqi prisoners held at the Abu Ghraib prison, once a notorious
centre of torture and executions under ousted President Saddam Hussein.
The U.S. military has brought criminal charges against six soldiers relating
to accusations of abuses from November and December 2003 on some 20
detainees, including indecent acts with another person, maltreatment,
battery, dereliction of duty and aggravated assault.
Prime Minister Tony Blair, who had earlier strongly condemned the abuse
involving U.S. soldiers, gave his backing to the army's investigation.
"The prime minister fully endorses both the statement by General Sir Michael
Jackson and the action he is taking as well as the speed with which the army
is acting," his spokesman said.
"The prime minister agrees that allegations of this nature are treated most
seriously, but they should not be taken as a reflection of the general
behaviour of coalition forces and the work they are doing with the Iraqi
Britain's forces in Iraq, concentrated in the south of the country around
Basra, have previously been praised for their conduct towards the Iraqi
There have been previous inquiries into allegations of abuse against British
soldiers in Iraq, but none have warranted such a high-profile response from
The human rights charity Amnesty International said it had warned U.S. and
British authorities in Iraq that captives were being abused.
"We have talked to ex-prisoners, who say when they were taken into custody
they were hooded and beaten, sometimes numerous times and subjected on some
occasions to psychological torture and acts of sexual humiliation,"
Amnesty's Neil Durkin told Sky News.
"They (the provisional authority) simply have not acted on these reports.
There is on the face of it a pattern."
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