UK court-martial told that senior officers' failures led to Iraqi detainee death

[JURIST] A prosecutor told a British court-martial Thursday that senior UK military officers should be held responsible for the abuse of Iraqi detainees in UK custody because they failed to develop adequate checking procedures on junior personnel. Colonel Jorge Mendonca, Major Michael Peebles, and Warrant Officer Mark Davies are among seven British soldiers being court-martialed [JURIST report, MOD press release] on abuse-related charges. Prosecutor Julian Bevan noted that the detainees had been arrested after the deaths of several other British soldiers, and that this should have made the officers even more wary about abuses. "This failure to have a checking system in place has to be seen in light of the fact that the soldiers . . . could be tempted to behave out of line, abuse [prisoners] and ill-treat them," said Bevan, according to a report in Friday's Independent.

The detainees were hooded, sleep-deprived, put in unsanitary conditions and forced to stand in the "stress position" for over 36 hours, ultimately causing the death of Baha Musa [Herald report]. The use of such practices was outlawed in Britain in 1972 after an investigation into methods used by British troops in Northern Ireland [Wikipedia backgrounder]. The Independent has more.

 

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