[JURIST] Britain's Ministry of Defense [official website] has said it will launch an investigation into video images published Sunday in the British News of the World [report; full video] tabloid which show British soldiers beating four young Iraqi men they detained after a street disturbance in southern Iraq in 2004. The video was apparently filmed by another soldier heard on audio in the background and was turned over to the newspaper by what it described as a whistleblower. Prime Minister Tony Blair [official profile], speaking from South Africa to the BBC, said "We take seriously any allegation of mistreatment and these will be investigated very fully indeed."
This is not the first allegation of abuse by British soldiers in Iraq; a number are already facing court-martial [JURIST report], although abuse charges against seven soldiers in connection with a 2003 incident were dropped [JURIST report] in November. In December 2005, the House of Lords ruled [JURIST report] that British law forbids UK soldiers in Iraq from subjecting Iraqi prisoners to cruel or degrading treatment while in their custody. BBC News has more.
2:26 PM ET – The British MOD has now confirmed that an urgent Royal Military Police [official website] investigation is underway after what it called "recent and very serious allegations of abuse by British Soldiers in Iraq". The Department said:
British troops are not above the law, and it has always been MOD policy to initiate a Service police investigation where there are any grounds to suspect that a criminal act has, or might have been, committed. This case is no different.
Read the full MOD press release