British troops suspected of murdering Iraqis, escape trial

The officials admit many UK soldiers are suspected of manslaughtering Iraqis.

London: British defence officials have admitted that many soldiers are suspected of manslaughtering civilians in Iraq, but have not been put on trial, a media report said on Monday.

Despite military police recommending trial against some of the soldiers for murder and manslaughter, prosecutors declined to do so saying that there was no realistic prospect of convictions, The Guardian reported.

The victims include a man who was allegedly kicked to death on board a Royal Air Force (RAF) helicopter, another who was shot by a soldier of the Black Watch after being involved in a traffic incident, and a 19-year-old who drowned after allegedly being pushed into a river by soldiers serving with the Royal Engineers.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA) have repeatedly declined to offer explanations for those decisions. “The ministry has also been reluctant to offer anything other than sketchy details of some of the investigations," the daily said.

The disclosure about the involvement of British servicemen in unlawful killing of Iraqi civilians came after the high court gave permission for a judicial review of the MoD`s failure to establish a public inquiry into the British military`s entire detention policy in the wake of the 2003 Iraq invasion, the daily said.

In July, after reviewing evidence submitted by lawyers representing 102 survivors of British military detention facilities, the high court ruled: "There is an arguable case that the alleged ill-treatment was systemic, and not just at the whim of individual soldiers."

The court also cast doubt on the ability of military police to conduct independent investigations.

The abuse documented by a team of lawyers led by Birmingham solicitor Phil Shiner includes 59 allegations of detainees being hooded, 11 of electric shocks, 122 of sound deprivation through the use of ear muffs, 52 of sleep deprivation, 131 of sight deprivation using blackened goggles, 39 of enforced nakedness and 18 allegations that detainees were kept awake by pornographic DVDs played on laptops.

The court heard that British troops had a policy of "wetting" suspected looters by forcing them into canals and rivers.

An Army investigation into a number of cases conceded in 2008 that they were a cause for "professional humility", but concluded that there was nothing endemic about the mistreatment.