Danish Defence Minister Soren Gade told national TV he was recalling the officers after a meeting with the auditors investigating allegations of prisoner abuse during interrogations at Camp Eden in southern Iraq.

 

 "There could be doubts regarding the leadership's judgment

and I have therefore decided to recall the commanders," Gade

said.

 

The Danish military said the battalion commander, the head

of military police, the head of military intelligence and the

chief legal officer in Iraq had been recalled.

 

New senior officers would be sent to Iraq to lead Denmark's 500 troops, it said

Abuse investigations

Several Danish soldiers stationed in Iraq are being investigated for abusing and torturing prisoners, according to a Danish military spokesman on Tuesday.

"Several soldiers are suspected of mistreating, at a moderate level, prisoners in Iraq, and are the object of an investigation," Lieutenant-Colonel Hans-Christian Mathisen said on Tuesday.

His comments came a day after Danish daily Ekstra Bladet revealed that the armed forces had launched an inquiry into whether one of its army intelligence officers had tortured prisoners in Iraq.

The paper further revealed the intelligence officer under investigation was a woman, Annemette Hommel, and was considered "one of the most experienced officers in interrogation techniques".

Mathisen refused to confirm the identity of the intelligence officer but did reveal that "this is not a case of just one person, one army intelligence officer, as the media reported on Monday".

"Several others could be involved in this case."

He added that army inspectors had interrogated "the incriminated people and those who had denounced them" in Kuwait, and said he would hand in his report in about a month.

"The torture suspicions relate to the refusal to give prisoners water and leaving them for several hours at a time in uncomfortable and painful positions," Mathisen said.

Unacceptable

"The torture suspicions relate to the refusal to give prisoners water and leaving them for several hours at a time in uncomfortable and painful positions"

Hans-Christian Mathisen,
Danish military spokesman

"Even if this type of abuse is moderate, it is completely unacceptable. We can't violate human rights, and a single violation is one violation too many," he said.

Denmark has 500 soldiers based in the southern Basra region under British command, and all prisoners captured by Danish troops are subsequently handed over to Iraqi police or to British forces.

Those suspected of having committed the abuses "were denounced by their colleagues, which is positive and which shows that there is a high degree of self-imposed justice among the Danish soldiers, who refuse to participate in any form of torture and who say it", Mathisen said.

Danish Defence Minister Soeren Gade, meanwhile, told Extra Bladet the torture suspicions also included a gunfire incident, but refused to elaborate.

Sharply critical in the past of the Iraq torture scandal involving US and British troops, Gade assured reporters he was taking allegations against Danish soldiers very seriously, adding that anyone found guilty of such charges would be punished.