MoD to announce new inquiry into Iraq abuse claims

Inquiry launched into claims 20 Iraqis were murdered and nine others tortured at a UK base in 2004

The defence secretary is to announce details of an inquiry into allegations that British soldiers murdered and abused Iraqi civilians.

Bob Ainsworth will announce the terms of the reference for the investigation into claims 20 Iraqis were murdered and nine others tortured at a UK base in 2004.

The inquiry was launched as a result of a High Court legal battle against the Ministry of Defence (MoD) brought by six Iraqis connected to the incident.

The government has always insisted that the men died during the "battle of Danny boy" between British soldiers and Iraqi insurgents in the south of the country.

The Armed Forces minister, Bill Rammell, said a "massive conspiracy" would have needed to be in place for the murder and mistreatment to have taken place.

But lawyers for six Iraqi men claim the civilians were killed after they were captured by British troops, rather than on the battlefield, near the town of Majar-al-Kabir in Maysan Province on 14 May 2004.

Five Iraqis who launched the legal challenge earlier this year say they are innocent civilians who were ill-treated after being captured by British soldiers.

The sixth applicant was Khuder Al-Sweady, uncle of 19-year-old Hamid Al-Sweady, one of the 20 who died.

Phil Shiner, of Public Interest Lawyers, said there was "very credible evidence there was clear ill-treatment".

He added: "These allegations are incredibly serious yet the Government has continuously delayed dealing with them since they were first made in 2004."

An MoD spokesman said: "We have found no credible evidence that those detained as a result of the attack on British troops and prolonged firefight at the Danny Boy checkpoint were mistreated."

The High Court previously criticised the MoD for failing to provide documents showing the government knew several prisoners had complained of mistreatment to the Red Cross.


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