7 UK soldiers charged with war crimes

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The family of Baha Mousa who was tortured to death and eight other torture victims yesterday welcomed the announcement that three British soldiers from the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment were being charged with war crimes.

Solicitor Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers acting on behalf of the Iraqi victims and their families, said the soldiers should really be charged with murder.

He told reporters yesterday: ‘This is only a start and it is critical that it leads to the following next steps:

‘many servicemen were involved in these cases. The nine Iraqi men were tortured over a period of days by shifts of soldiers;

‘there is evidence that officers were complicit and should be charged with war crimes;

‘the most heinous of crimes, namely, murder as a war crime, must be dealt with;

‘those responsible should not be charged and prosecuted by their own but should come before a Crown Court pursuant to criminal proceedings.

‘The announcement of charges for war crimes is only the tip of the ice-berg.’

Baha Mousa, a 26-year-old hotel employee, was taken on the night of 13 September 2003 with eight of his colleagues by British soldiers. Baha was taken to a separate room and could be heard screaming.

Three days later, Baha’s father was called to identify his son’s body which was covered in bruises and blood. During the three days, the other eight men were subjected to ill-treatment.

They were beaten, kicked and humiliated by soldiers. One, Kifah Taha Al-Mutairi, was beaten so badly that he suffered kidney failure.

It was announced Tuesday night that three British servicemen have been charged with the war crime of inhuman treatment in respect of these cases under the International Criminal Court Act 2001.

These are Corporal Payne, who also faces one charge of manslaughter, Lance Corporal Crowcroft, and Private Fallon. Former commanding officer, Colonel Mendonca has been charged with negligently performing his duty under the Army Act 1955.

In a separate case, four soldiers face manslaughter charges.

Iraqi civilian Ahmed Jabber Kareem Ali was detained in Basra as part of a group of four suspected looters on 8 May 2003. The men were allegedly punched and kicked before being forced into a canal, where Ali drowned.

The four British soldiers facing courts martial over Ali’s death are: Sergeant Carle Selman, 38, then of the Coldstream Guards, now serving with the Scots Guards; Guardsman Martin McGing, 21, of the Irish Guards, Guardsman Joseph McCleary, 23, of the Irish Guards; and a 21-year-old lance corporal, also of the Irish Guards, who has not yet been named.

IT’S NOT A CRIME TO BE A CHILD

A 15-year-old teenager yesterday won his legal challenge to Richmond Council over curfew powers for under 16-year-olds, introduced under Blair’s hated ‘anti-social behaviour’ legislation.

At 9:45am yesterday morning Lord Justice Brooke ruled in favour of the young man known as ‘W’.

The boy said the use of dispersal zones in Richmond, south-west London, breached his rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Court found that the curfew power could not have been intended to include the right to use force.

Lord Justice Brooke explained: ‘After all, all of us have the right to walk the streets without interference from police constables or CSOs (Community Support Officers) unless they possess common law or statutory powers to stop us.

‘There is no relevant common law power, and section 30(6) of the 2003 Act does not create an express power to use force.’

‘W’ said in a statement: ‘Of course I have no problem with being stopped by the police if I’ve done something wrong.

‘But they shouldn’t be allowed to treat me like a criminal just because I’m under-sixteen.’

The case was taken with the backing of human rights group Liberty.

James Welch, Legal Director at Liberty, said after the ruling: ‘We all have a shared interest in genuine efforts to address crime but you don’t teach respect by acting unfairly.

‘Today our Divisional Court has confirmed Liberty’s view that it should never be a crime just to be a child.’

Alex Gask, Liberty’s Legal Officer acting for ‘W’, stated: ‘This is a victory for the presumption of innocence, and the right of everyone, no matter what their age, not to be subjected to coercive powers without good cause.’

The Administrative Court considered Parliament’s intentions when drafting the curfew power and Lord Justice Brooke highlighted the right of every child in the UK to be treated as an individual and not to be assumed a troublemaker.

In the Judgment he stated: ‘If Parliament were to be taken to have regarded all children found in such areas between the relevant hours as potential sources of anti-social behaviour, a coercive power to remove them might be a natural corollary.

‘However, to attribute such an intention to Parliament would be to assume that it ignored this country’s international obligations to treat each child as an autonomous human being.’

The Home Office said it would be appealing against the ruling.