Scores of Iraqis were at the High Court in London yesterday demanding an Independent Public Inquiry into allegations that British interrogators abused, killed and tortured civilians in Iraq.
Lawyers representing 192 Iraqis told the court that British troops carried out ‘terrifying acts of brutality’.
As well as unlawful killings, there are claims of beatings, hooding, sleep deprivation and sexual humiliation including being made to watch pornography.
Women, the elderly and children were among the victims, according to an 82-page document presented in court.
Lawyers said they were still collecting allegations of abuse almost a decade after the invasion of Iraq, and had hundreds of further claims in the pipeline.
Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), acting on behalf of 180 of the claimants, allege unlawful killings and incidents of torture from March 2003 to December 2008 in British-controlled detention facilities.
Two judges sitting in London are hearing accusations that civilians were subjected to a number of techniques to disorientate and debilitate them, including deprivation of sleep, food and water.
Sir John Thomas and Mr Justice Silber are hearing evidence of hooding, forced nudity, sexual humiliation and repeated and lengthy interrogations.
The three-day application is the second legal challenge in a case in which PIL say there was systemic abuse, as opposed to ill treatment by ‘a few bad apples’.
Speaking outside the High Court before the start of the hearing yesterday, Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers said: ‘Hundreds and hundreds of Iraqis have complained of the most troubling torture techniques all designed to leave no marks, so you leave with your fingernails, but you might not have your minds.
‘And all of this we say has got to stop.
‘The Ministry of Defence have got to stop trying to sweep it under the carpet, it needs to be subject to public scrutiny in London.’
Shiner is representing Iraqi civilians who have been abused and tortured and seen family members killed by members of the British military.
Defence Secretary Hammond plans to investigate the claims through the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), which includes members of the Royal Navy Police (RNP).
But PIL are seeking judicial review on the grounds that the RNP lack independence, because numerous Royal Navy officers were involved in interrogations with the UK Joint Forward Interrogation Team (JF