Daily archives: March 14, 2007

Torture and Murder by UK Troops: No One Found Guilty

A new level of shame was brought on the now ex- Queens Lancashire Regiment as it emerged that a sucessful prosecution for the torture and murder of Iraqi civillians had been thawted. Remember that this is the same regiment that smugly rejected the relatively minor accusations of abuse published by the Daily Mirror newspaper – while at the same time they were effectively covering up much more serious crimes. The failure of the investigation and court martial to convict anyone for the murder of Mr Musa is a bad day for the British army and another nail in the coffin of ‘hearts and minds’ in Basra.

Iraq abuse case ends with soldiers acquitted

By Kim Sengupta in The Independent

The most high-profile court martial over the Iraq war has ended with the acquittal of six British soldiers and accusations from the military over “politically motivated prosecutions”.

The case also led to the disclosure that the Army high command had sanctioned brutal abuse of prisoners and condemnation from the trial judge of a cover-up surrounding the killing of Baha Musa, an Iraqi prisoner. The six acquitted soldiers’ all of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment, now the Duke of Lancaster Regiment ‘ had pleaded not guilty to charges linked to Mr Musa’s death.

Another defendant, Cpl Donald Payne, of the same regiment, who pleaded guilty to a war crimes charge when he admitted the inhumane treatment of persons, will be sentenced at a later date. But at the end of the trial which lasted 93 days and cost an estimated ’20m’ no one has been convicted over the killing of Mr Musa, a 26-year-old father of two who suffered 93 injuries including fractured ribs, a broken nose and kidney failure during his detention.

Yesterday, his father, Dawood, told The Independent: “What they have done in this case will cause a lot of anger in Basra… Everyone knows what happened to my son.”

There has also been anger in the military over this and other courts martial, which some claim have been driven by Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, whose legal advice paved the way for the Iraq War. Some believe the soldiers have been made scapegoats. But a spokesman for Lord Goldsmith denied he had made the decision to prosecute.

Outside the court yesterday at Bulford Camp, Wiltshire, Col David Black, a former commander of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment, said: “It has been gravely disappointing that it took over three years for the judicial authorities… to decide to bring to trial a number of gallant young men… Why, and what cost to the public? These are questions to be addressed by the Attorney General, who made final decisions over the trial.”

Among those cleared was Col Jorge Mendonca, the commander of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment and the highest ranking officer charged over prisoner abuse, and three men under his command ‘ Sgt Kelvin Stacey, L/Cpl Wayne Crowcroft and Pte Darren Fallon ‘ after the court heard the mistreatment, in contravention of the Geneva Conventions, was approved by the Army hierarchy.

The military jury also found Major Michael Peebles, 35, and Warrant Officer Mark Davies, 37, both of the Intelligence Corps, not guilty of charges of negligently performing a duty.

Defending the decision to prosecute, Major General Howell, head of the Army Prosecuting Authority, said: “The APA was satisfied… that there was sufficient evidence to proceed and it was in the public interest.”

He “utterly refuted” suggestions of any political or military pressure.

See also: British soldiers tortured Iraqi civillian to death: One pleads guilty to war crimes as case continues

View with comments

The Breaking of the Military Covenant

Following the weekend run of stories on the medical neglect of British soldiers injured in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Independent on Sunday has published an open letter to the Prime Minister. Politicians, leading figures in the arts and entertainment, and relatives of dead soldiers have put their names to it. Signatories include the playwright Harold Pinter, campaigner Bianca Jagger, Sir Menzies Campbell, leader of the Liberal Democrats, and MPs Peter Kilfoyle and Ben Wallace.

The letter is reproduced below via MFAW

To sign the letter write to [email protected]

Dear Prime Minister

We the undersigned believe that the military covenant is a cornerstone of our democracy, a mutual obligation between the nation, the armed forces, and every serviceman and woman. It is a common bond of identity, loyalty and responsibility that has sustained the armed

forces – and the country – throughout an often difficult history. In practice, this means that governments make the decisions, and the armed forces implement them. In return, the armed forces have:

* the right to expect any war to be lawful;

* the right to have adequate resources to carry out the tasks the

politicians demand of them;

* the right to be properly cared for in the event of injury;

* the right to know that, in the event of their death, their families

will be looked after properly.

This is a terrible war that has led to hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians being killed, maimed or displaced. At best, the legality of the war is dubious. Britain’s hard-pressed armed forces have been denied the support they require; in some circumstances, service personnel have paid with their lives because of this failure to make required equipment available.

Accommodation for many of the armed forces and their families back home is, as General Sir Mike Jackson, former chief of the general staff, says, “frankly shaming”. Military hospitals in this country have been closed while they have never been more essential, and wounded soldiers evacuated from the battlefield suddenly find themselves on civilian wards and at risk of physical or verbal attack from members of the public.

Servicemen and women are receiving insufficient treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, and many are desperately ill, out of work, homeless, and even suicidal. We also believe that the Government is failing properly to look after the British widows and the children left behind.

We believe that the military covenant is broken, and that you have neglected the young men and women who carry out your orders in our name. At a time when the country is asking so much of our overstretched forces, it is failing to play fair by them. In this, you have prime responsibility, and you should at the very least meet the families of the bereaved to discuss their concerns. We call on you to reconsider your approach towards our military personnel, to restore the vital covenant, and to deliver to our men and women the just and proper treatment they deserve.

View with comments