Abuse of Iraqis condoned 'from the top': report | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Abuse of Iraqis condoned 'from the top': report

PTI | ByAFP, London
May 19, 2004 06:30 PM IST

Iraqi prisoners were routinely beaten or otherwise abused by British troops, with the mistreatment "condoned all the way from the top", a British newspaper reported. Maltreatment included soldiers urinating on or spitting at detainees in Iraq, the Daily Mirror reported, as the furore of the treatment of Iraqi prisoners by coalition forces continued.

Iraqi prisoners were routinely beaten or otherwise abused by British troops, with the mistreatment "condoned all the way from the top", a British newspaper on Wednesday quoted a reservist as saying.

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Maltreatment included soldiers urinating on or spitting at detainees in Iraq, the Daily Mirror reported, as the furore of the treatment of Iraqi prisoners by coalition forces continued.

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The man, identified by the newspaper only as "Soldier E", said he had been "sickened" by what he witnessed in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, where British forces are based.

"It wasn't right ... and it was condoned all the way from the top," he was quoted as saying.

Soldier E recounted seeing troops take turns to assault one prisoner inside an armoured personnel carrier.

"The decision was made to allow the soldiers to go in individually, one by one, into the back and beat this fellow up.

"When it was my turn I refused to do it. I took off his sandbag and gave him water. His nose was half way across his face," he said.

According to the Daily Mirror, the soldier, a member of the Territorial Army reserve, was attached to the Queen's Lancashire Regiment which has been at the centre of allegations of British mistreatment.

The regiment is currently based in Cyprus.

On May 1, the Daily Mirror ran photographs apparently showing troops from the regiment beating and urinating on a detainee.

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said Monday the photos looked "increasingly like a hoax".

But Soldier E said the pictures -- which the Daily Mirror has vehemently defended -- were genuine, and that he has contacted rights group Amnesty International about what he witnessed.

"I believe the truth will be out and that these things should come out," he was quoted as saying.

Reacting to the latest claims, a Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "The abuse of prisoners is unacceptable and if any allegations are proven, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against the individual or individuals concerned."

"We would urge soldiers E and F to contact the Royal Military Police so that we can investigate the allegations fully," he said. "It is in no-one's best interests if the guilty avoid punishment."

Britain has some 8,000 troops in southern Iraq.

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