UK Defence Ministry withholding Iraqi detainee abuse evidence: lawyers

UK Defence Ministry withholding Iraqi detainee abuse evidence: lawyers

[JURIST] The UK Ministry of Defence [official website] has refused to release key evidence about the abuse of Iraqi detainees held by British security forces, lawyers representing the detainees' families said Tuesday. The lawyers have requested that the UK High Court to issue a new order to compel the ministry to hand over documents about 11 Iraqi detainees, including Baha Mousa [BBC report; JURIST report], a Basra hotel receptionist who died while in British custody in 2003. Evidence of abuse first surfaced during a court-martial [JURIST report] in March against seven soldiers involved in the Basra incident. The information the lawyers are seeking concerns the legal advice provided to soldiers on permissible interrogation techniques. The Guardian has more.

In 2003, British military took part in a raid on a hotel in Basra, confiscating weapons and detaining several Iraqi civilians, including Mousa. The soldiers allegedly took the Iraqis to a detention facility where they were held for 36 hours and subjected to physical abuse, causing Mousa's death. Charges were dropped against seven British soldiers [BBC trial timeline] accused of causing Mousa's death, while a military panel cleared Major Michael Peebles and Warrant Officer Mark Davies of negligently performing their duties. Charges against Lieutenant Colonel Jorge Mendonca [JURIST report] and four other soldiers were dropped [BBC report] in February, and in 2006, Corporal David Payne pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to a charge of inhumane treatment.