Soldier arrested over fake Iraqi abuse

At least one British soldier has been arrested over the fake Iraqi abuse photographs published in the Daily Mirror newspaper, Britain's defence ministry said.
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Published on May 19, 2004 06:30 PM IST
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PTI | ByAFP, London

At least one British soldier has been arrested over the fake Iraqi abuse photographs published in the Daily Mirror newspaper, Britain's defence ministry said.

"At least one soldier has been arrested in connection with the Mirror photographs," an Ministry of Defence (MOD) spokeswoman said late Tuesday, confirming that this was the first arrest over the controversial pictures.

The soldier was being questioned by the special investigations branch as part of their probe into the publication of faked photographs supposedly showing British soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners, she said.

He has not been charged, the spokeswoman said, and it was not clear if he was being detained overnight.

The Daily Mirror on Friday issued a humbling apology for running the pictures and sacked its bullish editor, Piers Morgan, who had repeatedly stuck by the photographs despite doubts from experts.

First printed on May 1, the photographs appeared to show British troops from the Queen's Lancashire Regiment beating and urinating on an Iraqi.

But doubts were swiftly raised about equipment and a truck seen in the pictures, and on Thursday the defence ministry announced that an investigation had shown they could not have been taken in Iraq.

The Daily Mirror's backdown has been seen as a moral victory for Prime Minister Tony Blair and his government, which has faced mounting pressure over reported abuses by both British and US troops.

The Sunday Telegraph said that executives from the Daily Mirror's owners, Trinity Mirror, planned to reveal the identity of its sources for the story that went with the hoax photographs to military investigators.

On Saturday, the Daily Mirror published a front page declaring "Sorry ... We Were Hoaxed".

In an editorial, the paper said the photos were published "in good faith", but added: "We apologise for publishing pictures which we now believe were not genuine.

"We also say sorry to the Queen's Lancashire Regiment and our army in Iraq for publishing those pictures."

The regiment expressed "quiet satisfaction" at the apology, and welcomed the paper's decision to give its profits from the sale of the photos to charity.

Neither the government nor the regiment have denied abuses may have taken place in Iraq.

An investigation by the Royal Military Police into other alleged abuses by British soldiers of Iraqis is still continuing.

The defence ministry said Saturday it had arrested four British soldiers as part of investigations into the abuse of prisoners in Iraq, but they were later released and no charges have been filed.

It is now clear those men were not held in connection with the faked photographs but over other abuse allegations.

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