British troops deny mutilating corpses

2013-09-02 23:30


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

London - British army officials on Monday dismissed "baseless rumours" that troops mutilated the bodies of dead Iraqi insurgents after a 2004 battle, as a public inquiry heard its first evidence from military witnesses.

The Al-Sweady Inquiry is investigating claims that British troops committed human rights abuses in the aftermath of a notorious firefight near the town of Majar al-Kabir, southwest Iraq, that came to be known as the "Battle of Danny Boy" after a nearby checkpoint.

Troops are accused of unlawfully killing 20 or more Iraqis at Camp Abu Naji near Majar-al-Kabir in May 2004, and ill-treating detainees there as well as later at Shaibah Logistics Base, also in southwest Iraq.

But at a hearing in London on Monday, Colonel Adam Griffiths said he had not seen any evidence to suggest that around a dozen bodies taken to Camp Abu Naji were mutilated before being returned to relatives, or that detainees had been mistreated.

"I did not believe any of our soldiers had mutilated a body and I did not see at the time, and have not seen since, any evidence to support this proposition," he told the inquiry.

He suggested that the rumours sprang from "ignorance amongst the local population as to the traumatic injuries that can be suffered in combat" as well as insurgents' efforts to discredit the US-led troops that had invaded Iraq in 2003.

Some of the bodies had broken limbs as well as gunshot wounds, Griffiths said, but he believed those injuries could have been caused by ammunition.

The colonel admitted that an order to take the bodies back to the camp was "highly unusual".

He insisted the order must have been given for good reason - possibly to help identify a suspect in the murder of six British military policemen the year before.

Sergeant James Gadsby, who helped unload the bodies at Camp Abu Naji, also said in evidence to the hearing that the corpses appeared to have only battlefield injuries.

"I did not observe any injuries that I believe were inconsistent with having been sustained as a result of the firing of ammunition commonly used on the battlefield," he said.

Set up in 2009, the Al-Sweady Inquiry has been hearing testimony since March but until Monday, only experts and Iraqi witnesses had spoken.

Up to 200 British military witnesses are set to give evidence in the coming months.

The inquiry - named after one of the dead men, 19-year-old Hamid Al-Sweady - is the second probe into the abuse allegations, after high court judges ruled that an earlier investigation by the Royal Military Police was inadequate.

There have been complaints in Britain over the spiralling cost of the investigation, which currently stands at £19m.

Read more on:    iraq

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.