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Iraq Torture: 'Claims Against Soldiers Swept under Carpet'

By Nick Allen, PA

Allegations by nine Iraqi men who claim to have been tortured at the hands of British soldiers at an aid camp were set out today.

The men say they were subjected to beatings and abuse at Camp Breadbasket, just outside Basra, in May 2003.

Their British human rights lawyer, Phil Shiner, called for an independent public inquiry and the men could ultimately attempt to sue for substantial damages.

One claims he was kicked so hard in the genitals that he cannot have children and another says that British soldiers tried to get him to cut off the finger of a fellow Iraqi.

Mistreatment of civilian detainees at Breadbasket emerged in “trophy” photographs taken by a soldier, which included scenes of sexual humiliation.

Four low-ranking soldiers were convicted over their roles in the scandal at courts-martial in Germany earlier this year. Two of the men are appealing.

But Mr Shiner said the court-martial process had been a “farce”, a “put-up job” and produced an “Alice in Wonderland” version of events.

He said three of the alleged victims, including a man photographed being suspended from a forklift truck, had told their stories to him before the court-martial verdict.

Mr Shiner said he contacted the attorney-general, Lord Goldsmith, to tell him of the development and was instructed to contact the Army Prosecuting Authority at the court-martial in Osnabruck.

But he said he was told by them that the hearing would proceed without the men’s evidence and that, if he revealed it publicly during the court-martial process, he would be in contempt of court.

Mr Shiner claimed today that the men’s evidence had been “swept under the carpet” and that Lord Goldsmith had been “grossly deficient in exercising his provisions, which include supervising the Army Prosecuting Authority”.

He went on: “If he doesn’t give us an independent public inquiry – one by the Metropolitan Police and the Crown Prosecution Service would probably be good enough – then we will have to go through judicial review to force the issue.

“Here there is the clearest evidence that the military are incapable of prosecuting and investigating themselves.

“If they are allowed to, all we get is a whitewash and a few bad apples thrown to the dogs.

“Clearly, here something has gone badly wrong, officers were involved and a whole lot of people were abused.”