|News and opinions on situation in Iraq|
|01/05/04||Pics Of 'Appalling' UK Soldiers Torturing Iraqi Detainees Surface|
May 01, 2004 Source: The Scotsman
Shocking photographs apparently showing British troops torturing an Iraqi detainee were published tonight.
The Ministry of Defence launched an immediate investigation into the alleged incident which was condemned as “shameful” by the Army’s most senior officer and the Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
The pictures, printed in the Daily Mirror, show soldiers apparently beating the man – a suspected thief – with rifle butts and urinating on him.
He was allegedly threatened with execution during an eight-hour ordeal, which left him bleeding and vomiting, with a broken jaw and smashed teeth.
Tonight’s revelation comes hot on the heels of the publication of photos of hooded and naked Iraqi prisoners being taunted and abused by US troops.
Those photographs led to a wave of revulsion across the world and were strongly condemned by President George Bush and Mr Blair.
Tonight, Chief of General Staff General Sir Michael Jackson said: “I am aware of the allegations which have been made today of the abuse of prisoners by British soldiers in Iraq.
“If proven, not only is such appalling conduct clearly unlawful, but it also contravenes the British Army’s high standards.
“All allegations are already under investigation. 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.
“Most emphatically, the British Army should not be judged by the reprehensible ill-discipline of a few soldiers who, by their shameful behaviour, have let down those tens of thousands of British soldiers who have worked, and still do, in difficult and dangerous conditions in the most commendable way, in particular in Iraq, where their sole purpose is to help the Iraqis to a new and better future.”
The Mirror said it was given the pictures by serving soldiers from the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment, who were horrified at the act depicted and concerned that “rogue elements” in the Army were undermining attempts to win the hearts and minds of local people in British-administered southern Iraq.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the soldiers told the paper that the unnamed captive, against whom no charges were brought, was driven away and dumped from the back of a moving vehicle following his ordeal. It was not known whether he survived.
The soldiers said they were making the photos public to show why the US-UK coalition was encountering such fierce resistance in Iraq.
One told the paper: “We are not helping ourselves out there. We are never going to get them on our side. We are fighting a losing war.”
Tonight’s revelations are certain to cause uproar in Iraq, amid growing anger of the behaviour of some members of the occupying US/UK coalition forces.
In a hastily arranged press conference, Gen Jackson tonight insisted that the vast majority of British troops in Iraq had behaved impeccably.
He left no doubt that any servicemen shown to have abused prisoners would face the most severe discipline.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “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.
“The Prime Minister agreed 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 people.
“As the Chief of General Staff underlined, we expect the highest standards of conduct from our forces in Iraq despite the difficulties they face.”
Michael Ancram, shadow foreign secretary, said: “These allegations are most serious.
“If the alleged conduct is true, it is wholly unacceptable and damaging. Government must conduct a swift, full and in depth inquiry into the truth and take appropriate action.”