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UK announces public inquiry into 2003 death of Iraqi detainee

[JURIST] The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) [official website] announced Wednesday that it will conduct a public inquiry [MOD press release] into the death of Baha Mousa [BBC report; JURIST news archive], an Iraqi hotel receptionist who died in British military custody in 2003. Mousa's death allegedly occurred as the result of abuse at the hands of British troops who had arrested him and nine other Iraqis in a Basra hotel where weapons and suspected bomb-making materials were found. The nine other Iraqis alleged that they were tortured by British soldiers, and filed suit against the MOD seeking damages. Seven soldiers faced court-martial [BBC timeline] in connection with Mousa's death, but only Corporal David Payne received a jail sentence after pleading guilty [JURIST reports] to a charge of inhumane treatment. All other charges were dismissed [JURIST report]. AP has more.

In March, UK Secretary of State for Defence Des Browne admitted that British soldiers had violated the rights of detainees [JURIST report] in Basra in 2003, and that the MOD would specifically admit to substantive breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights [PDF, text]. In October 2007, the UK High Court heard arguments [JURIST report] in the case brought by the nine Basra detainees against the MOD. In August 2007, lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case accused the MOD of withholding evidence [JURIST report].

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