126 Iraqi win legal bid in UK for torture inquiry

Last Updated: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 19:49

London: Over 120 Iraqi civilians on Tuesday won a
major legal battle in their bid to force a new public inquiry
into allegations of torture and inhuman treatment by British
soldiers.

The UK High Court had previously backed government claims
that an inquiry into whether abuse was systematic was not
needed as a team had already been set up to look into the
allegations.

But three judges of the UK Court of Appeal ordered the
Ministry of Defence (MoD) to reconsider its decision.

The MoD said it would examine the judgment "very
carefully", the BBC reported.

Some 128 Iraqis have complained of torture and inhuman
and degrading treatment by British soldiers and interrogators
in Iraq between March 2003 and December 2008.

Lead claimant Ali Zaki Mousa, from Basra, alleges he
endured months of beatings and other abuse in the custody of
British soldiers between 2006-07.

Last December the High Court ruled a fresh inquiry was
unnecessary as the government had set up the Iraq Historic
Allegations Team (IHAT) to investigate.

But appeal judges ruled that the IHAT lacked "practical
independence" because it included members of the military
police, who might themselves be accused of wrongdoing.

They also found that other inquiries had failed to fully
meet Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights,
which protects against inhuman and degrading treatment.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "We will examine
the judgment very carefully and consider next steps."

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has until 30 November to
decide whether to challenge the ruling in the Supreme Court.

Phil Shiner, lawyer for Iraqi claimants, said the MoD was
"deploying every dirty trick in the book" to avoid
accountability.

"There must now be a judicial inquiry into the UK`s
detention policy in south-east Iraq. It is something we have
been calling for since 2004.

Two public inquiries have already been launched into
similar claims.

The first inquiry, into the death of 26-year-old hotel
worker Baha Mousa in UK military custody in 2003, reported in
September and blamed "corporate failure" at the Ministry of
Defence for the use of banned interrogation methods in Iraq.

In November, 2010, the MoD announced details of a second
public hearing into allegations that 19-year-old Hamid Al-
Sweady and up to 19 other Iraqis were unlawfully killed and
others ill-treated at a British base in May 2004.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 19:49

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