UK probes death of Iraqi POWs

British military police are investigating the deaths of two Iraqi prisoners of war (POWs) who were in the custody of Britain’s Black Watch Regiment, defence officials said on Wednesday.

    There are mounting allegations of
    abuse towards Iraqi POWs

    Two Iraqi civilians died in separate incidents on 13 May and 18 May. The Daily Mail reported an inquiry was underway into allegations that the two died after being abused in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

    In what appeared to be a separate incident, two British soldiers were ordered out of Iraq after they were accused of beating POWs, said a British defence ministry spokeswoman.

    The soldiers, whose regiment was not revealed, are believed to have returned to their barracks in Germany.

    The defence ministry spokeswoman did not say where the assault allegedly took place.

    There are mounting accusations that British soldiers mistreated Iraqi POWs during the US-led war on Iraq.

    “Disturbing” photographs

    The latest allegations came days after a British soldier was arrested on suspicion of taking pictures of Iraqi POWs being abused.

    Photographs showing an Iraqi POW bound and gagged, hanging from netting on a fork-lift truck were developed in Britain. An employee called the police when she though the photos were “disturbing”.

    Human rights groups say there
    are numerous reports of abuse

    Other pictures allegedly depict soldiers committing sexual acts near the POWs, reported the Sun newspaper.

    If the pictures are verified such treatment is a violation of the Geneva Conventions. The soldier who took the roll of film for development is in custody and is being questioned.

    He is believed to have served in the 1st battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, part of the 7th Armoured Brigade, nicknamed the Desert Rats.

    The 7th Armoured Brigade, headed by Brigadier Commander Adrian Bradshaw, is based in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

    An investigation is also underway into allegations that British Colonel Tim Collins, hailed for his leadership in Iraq, punched, kicked and threatened POWs. He is accused of shooting at the feet of Iraqi civilians and pistol-whipping a civic leader.

    Known as “Nails”, Collins was promoted after the conflict. He has denied the allegations against him.

    Amnesty probe

    Human-rights watch organisation Amnesty International said last month a “substantial proportion” of former POWs it interviewed said they had been abused by occupation forces in central and southern Iraq.

    Amnesty said some of the prisoners were civilians. One Saudi Arabian citizen said he had been subjected to electric shocks.

    Amnesty researcher Said Boumedouha said some POWs said they had been kicked in the mouth until their teeth broke.

    “I think you would call that torture,” he said.


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