Britain condemns beheading of US civilian

Published on May 12, 2004 12:52 PM IST

Britain on Tuesday condemned the reported beheading of an American man in Iraq, calling it indefensible. The execution of the American civilian was taped on a video and posted Tuesday on an Islamic militant Web site, which said an al-Qaida-affiliated group carried out the killing to avenge the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers.

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PTI | ByAssociated Press, London

Britain on Tuesday condemned the reported beheading of an American man in Iraq, calling it indefensible. The execution of the American civilian was taped on a video and posted Tuesday on an Islamic militant Web site, which said an al-Qaida-affiliated group carried out the killing to avenge the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers.

"If this is genuine, then it is utterly repugnant and indefensible," a British Foreign Office spokesman said on condition of anonymity.

The British Red Cross said that if the beheading had taken place, "the Red Cross is shocked and appalled."

"The rules of war, of which the Red Cross is the guardian, apply to all belligerents in times of armed conflict and we would expect the rules of war to be observed at all times," organization spokesman Leigh Daynes said. "This extends to the protection of innocent civilians caught up in conflict."

The human rights organization Amnesty International, which has reported US and British abuses of Iraqi detainees, said such a beheading would be, "clearly a very profound abuse of human rights."

"What Amnesty International has been saying all the way though, is that in Iraq we are working in a country where there has been no justice done for 20 years or more," said spokeswoman Lesley Warner. "To regain the confidence of the Iraqi people, it is essential that justice is done and seen to be done," she said. That applied both to coalition troops accused of abusing prisoners and to armed Iraqi groups.

"This is a country direly in need of justice," she said.

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