Brit Soldiers Convicted Of
Iraq Prisoner Abuse

By Reuters in Osnabruck and Christopher Adams in London
The Financial Times
Two British soldiers were convicted on Wednesday of abusing detainees in Iraq in a case echoing the Abu Ghraib scandal involving US troops.
At the end of a 20-month investigation and five-week court martial in Osnabruck, Germany, Corporal Daniel Kenyon was found guilty of failing to report that men under his command had forced prisoners to simulate sex acts. He was cleared of helping stage photographs.
"We know that he knew two Iraqis were stripped naked and simulating oral sex while others (soldiers) were there and laughing," Judge Advocate Michael Hunter told the court while summing up the evidence.
Lance Corporal Mark Cooley was convicted of suspending a trussed-up man from the prongs of a forklift truck and Cpl Kenyon was convicted of failing to report that incident. L Cpl Cooley was also convicted of simulating punching a detainee.
The convictions are embarrassing for the government, which has stressed the good record of British troops in Iraq and their low-key presence there. The Ministry of Defence declined to comment on the cases because the two soldiers are still awaiting sentencing.
When the revelations were made public, they were condemned by General Sir Michael Jackson, chief of the general staff. He said at the time: "Where there is evidence of abuse, this is immediately investigated."
Earlier in the trial another soldier, L Cpl Darren Larkin, pleaded guilty to assault for stamping on a detainee. All three are members of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and the incidents took place during an operation against looters near the city of Basra in southern Iraq in May 2003.
L Cpl Cooley and Cpl Kenyon could each face up to two years in prison, and L Cpl Larkin faces up to six months. Sentencing is due on Friday. Photos allegedly depicting Iraqi detainees to simulate sex acts came to light when Fusilier Gary Bartlam returned to Britain and handed them to a commercial photo shop, causing lab workers to alert the authorities.
When they were released to the media during the trial, Tony Blair, the prime minister, said he was shocked and appalled, prompting the defence team to argue the proceedings were a mistrial.
Judge Advocate Michael Hunter allowed the media on Wednesday to report for the first time that Fus Bartlam had pleaded guilty to taking the pictures and aiding in the forklift incident. He received an 18-month sentence at an earlier trial.
More severe charges against him were dropped and Fus Bartlam became the key witness against other soldiers for the sex abuse pictures. Charges of indecent conduct against L Cpl Larkin for ordering detainees to strip naked were dropped for lack of evidence.
Fus Bartlam said Cpl Kenyon was present when the men were forced to simulate oral and anal sex. But there was no other evidence Cpl Kenyon was there and the jury of seven officers cleared him of indecent conduct.
© Copyright The Financial Times Ltd 2005.



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