Lawyers yesterday revealed shocking allegations about the behaviour of British troops in Iraq.
Martyn Day, senior partner at law firm Leigh Day & Co, and Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers, have taken detailed statements from a number of Iraqi citizens over the past weeks about events that are alleged to have taken place in a British army camp, Abu Naji, on the 14th and 15th May 2004.
The Iraqis claim that British troops were responsible for:
• the execution of up to 20 Iraqi civilians;
• the torture of many of these 20 before death;
• the torture of nine other survivors;
• horrific bodily mutilations prior to some of the executions.
Martyn Day has previously dismissed an official report into the UK’s detention policy, the Aitken report, as a whitewash and claims that the conclusions of that report, amongst others that there is no evidence of systematic abuse by the British army, are wrong.
Leigh Day & Co and Public Interest Lawyers have been instructed to bring damages claims relating to the incidents that took place in Abu Naji in May 2004, and are calling for a public inquiry into those events.
The lawyers said: ‘It is alleged that on the night of the 14th and 15th May 2004 our clients were caught up in a battle between the British Army and the Mahdi army.
‘It is our clients’ case that they were labourers who have spent their lives in the town of Majar raising crops or looking after animals.
‘One client had collected tubs of yoghurt for a wedding that evening when he and the others were detained by the British army and taken to the British army camp at Abu Naji.
‘These men allege that they were then systematically tortured and abused, and that up to 15 men were executed.
‘The survivors suffered horrific injuries and extremely cruel treatment including mutilation.’
An investigation by the Royal Military Police has found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing, a process which Day said is flawed, and he is calling on the Attorney General to intervene and place the investigation in the hands of Scotland Yard.
Hussein Jabari Ali is one of the Iraqis who has made and signed a Witness Statement to the lawyers.
The 28-year-old farmer says that on 14th May 2004 he went by bicycle to the fields to cut grass for his two cows, but was seized by two British soldiers.
He tells how he was blindfolded, beaten and taken to a place of torture and execution, where he heard a scream.
He said: ‘After about 15 minutes, the scream went up and up both in volume and scale. The scream then began to subside and fade away and then there was only silence.
‘This was followed by the pouring of water and the sound of buckets or something like that and I heard a chair being dragged.
‘I smelt blood and heard the sound of mopping. Then I smelt perfumed disinfectant and could no longer smell blood.
‘There was a silence and, shortly after, the sound of voices and the footsteps of soldiers again.
‘The footsteps seemed to come to the same place as before, about two metres behind my right shoulder.
‘Again without warning there was the most terrible scream. As before this scream went on and on.
Again it seems that whatever was happening to this second person who was screaming involved excruciating pain.
‘As before, the scream was not the sound of a person being swiftly killed. It was the sound of a person being tortured in some horrible way and then executed.
‘As this had happened in the same spot behind me it seemed clear that the soldiers were now bringing Iraqi detainees to an execution spot to kill them.’
Hussein Jabari Ali states that he heard eight executions in all.