Britain set to declare torture pictures as fake

PTI | ByAFP, London
May 17, 2004 05:38 PM IST

The British government was to denounce Thursday as fake pictures showing British troops allegedly abusing Iraqi prisoners, media reports said.

The British government was to denounce Thursday as fake pictures showing British troops allegedly abusing Iraqi prisoners, media reports said.

HT Image
HT Image

Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram was to tell parliament that an investigation into the Daily Mirror photos has concluded that they are not genuine, the BBC and the Press Association news agency reported quoting defence sources.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman told AFP that Ingram would be speaking in the House of Commons after 1 pm (1200 GMT) about "personnel matters".

Last week the Sun and the Scotsman newspapers reported that Britain would this week be announcing a reinforcement of its 8,000-strong occupation force in southern Iraq to fill the gap left by departing Spanish forces.

The Daily Mirror first ran its prisoner abuse pictures on May 1, just days after the first images of US troops abusing and torturing Iraqis at Abu Ghraib jail appeared on US television.

One of the pictures -- which the tabloid insists are authentic -- depicted a British soldier urinating on a hooded Iraqi. Another showed the Iraqi being threatened with a blow to the groin from a rifle butt.

While the US photos were not questioned, the Daily Mirror pictures raised eyebrows among experts who said, for instance, that the guns and truck seen in them were not of a type deployed in Iraq.

The Daily Mirror, a traditionally pro-Labour newspaper which editorially opposed the Iraq war, has also run allegations from five British soldiers claiming that they had seen acts of abuse.

The allegations have centred on the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, which was deployed in southern Iraq last year. The regiment is currently in Cyprus.

The Royal Military Police has been investigating the Daily Mirror pictures, of which 20 or so have been turned over by the newspaper, as well as the broader claims of abuse and torture.

Earlier this week, Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon told parliament that the truck seen in the pictures was not even in Iraq at the time.

Hoon also said that 33 cases of prisoner abuse had been investigated, or were still in the process of being investigated, and that two were close to prosecution.

Of the Daily Mirror pictures, he said they appeared "increasingly like a hoax". There were also claims that the photographs were faked at a Territorial Army (reserve) barracks in Preston, northwest England.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Tony Blair went further than Hoon, telling parliament that the photographs were "almost certainly fake".

Sources at the Ministry of Defence told the Press Association that the findings of the military police investigation were unlikely to differ from Hoon and Blair's comments.

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