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British soldiers allegedly tortured, killed Iraqi civilians after 2004 clash

[JURIST] British troops may have tortured and executed up to 20 Iraqi civilians after a 2004 clash between insurgents and a British convoy in Majar al Kabir [Guardian report], according to evidence released Friday by the lawyers of five Iraqi men detained after the battle. The evidence includes testimony from several witnesses, death certificates, and video footage of mutilated bodies. The five men claim that they were tortured and that they heard sounds of someone being strangled followed by gunshots during their detention at at the British army base in Abu Naji. All five men believe the gunshots were the sounds of executions. The Ministry of Defense [official website] has said the bodies turned over to Iraqi authorities were those of insurgents killed in the battle and that an independent pathologist has confirmed that the wounds were consistent with those suffered in combat. The lawyers disclosing the evidence Friday called for a public inquiry into the incident, acknowledging they while they believed their clients on a "balance of probabilities," they themselves did not know exactly what happened.

The UK Royal Military Police [official website] first conducted an investigation [Guardian report] into the events in 2004 which cleared the UK soldiers of wrongdoing. A subsequent investigation [JURIST report] began in December 2007 and was made public this month after the UK High Court lifted a gag order. AP has more. The Guardian has additional coverage.

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