UK Soldiers' 'Appalling'
Abuse Of Iraqi Prisoners

By Mark Oliver and Agencies
The Guardian - UK
Three British soldiers carried out "shocking and appalling" physical and sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners that was photographed by servicemen, a court martial heard today.
Twenty-two photographs were released by a British military court in Germany where the court martial of the three accused Royal Regiment of Fusiliers soldiers opened today.
Among the disturbing images was a picture of two naked Iraqi men simulating anal sex with their thumbs raised up to the cameras. There was also a close-up picture of two Iraqis simulating oral sex.
In other images, detainees are bound and apparently been assaulted by British troops.
Speaking in London, the head of the army, General Sir Mike Jackson, said that while he could not directly comment on the ongoing proceedings, the army condemned "utterly all acts of abuse".
The images are reminiscent of the photographs of naked Iraqi detainees being abused in US custody at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad which caused outrage around the world.
The British soldiers are accused of abusing detainees who had attempted to steal food and powdered milk from a warehouse they were guarding outside Basra, in southern Iraq in May 2003, weeks after Saddam Hussein was toppled.
Lieutenant Colonel Nick Clapham, prosecuting, told the court martial near Osnabruck, in northern Germany: "It cannot be said that these photographs are of incidents that are anything other than shocking and appalling."
Lance Corporal Darren Larkin, 30, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, admitted one charge of assaulting an unknown male at the camp, but pleaded not guilty to a charge of indecent conduct for allegedly forcing two Iraqi detainees to undress in front of others.
His two co-accused, Corporal Daniel Kenyon, 33, and Lance Corporal Mark Cooley, 25, between them denied nine further charges of mistreating Iraqi detainees.
Evidence of the alleged abuse came to light after a set of photographs was left for processing at a shop in Tamworth, Staffordshire. When the developer saw the photographs, she was "disturbed by the content" and contacted civilian police, the hearing was told.
The photographs depicting the alleged abuse of the prisoners were from the cameras of five British servicemen.
If found guilty by Judge Advocate Michael Hunter and a panel of officers, the accused soldiers could be jailed and discharged from the army.
Referring to the admission of assault, Lance Corporal Larkin's lawyer, William England, told the court: "He is ashamed of his unacceptable and mindless act ... and that he has brought shame to his proud regiment, himself and his family."
Corporal Kenyon denied six charges, including two of aiding and abetting a person to force two naked males being detained by British troops to simulate a sex act. He also faces a charge of being an accessory in the battery to which Lance Corporal Larkin pleaded guilty.
Lance Corporal Cooley, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, denied three charges, including placing an unknown Iraqi captive, with his hands bound, on the front of a forklift and driving it around, and also simulating punching and kicking a detainee while someone else took photographs.
Lt Col Clapham told the hearing that the camp's commander, Major Dan Taylor, had ordered that looters should be "worked hard" in a crackdown codenamed Operation Ali Baba - a reference to the folk story of Ali Baba and the 40 thieves.
The prosecutor said the orders were an "unlawful" breach of the Geneva convention, "but even though the order was unlawful, had the defendants done no more they would not face the charges they face today".
Speaking to reporters, Sir Michael said that the proper way to deal with allegations of abuse was "for them to be investigated by the service police and, as appropriate, prosecuted by the independent service authorities".
He said. "I have every confidence in the military investigative and judicial system."
The court martial, which is expected to last up to four weeks, continues.
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005,2763,1393116,00.html



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