Page last updated at 19:09 GMT, Tuesday, 27 April 2010 20:09 UK

Baha Mousa death probe officer accused of 'cover up'

Picture of hooded prisoner released by Baha Mousa Inquiry
Soldiers used illegal conditioning techniques on the prisoners

A UK Army officer who asked for advice on handling prisoners on the night an Iraqi civilian was allegedly killed has been accused of trying to cover tracks.

A public inquiry into Baha Mousa's death heard Maj Michael Peebles asked about blindfolding and handcuffing.

The Territorial Army captain he called told the inquiry she was unsure if Mr Mousa had already been dead but it seemed like "covering someone's arse".

UK soldiers are accused of beating the hotel worker to death in Basra in 2003.

Stress positions

The 26-year-old was in the custody of 1st Battalion the Queen's Lancashire Regiment (1QLR) at the time and had suffered 93 separate injuries.

The TA captain, named at the inquiry only as SO17, said she was "amazed" at Maj Peebles's questions because his unit should have known about the Army's policy on detainees.

She said Maj Peebles, the internment review officer for 1QLR's battle group, also asked her about procedures for feeding prisoners.

I cannot say whether Baha Mousa was already dead at the time of the phone call
TA captain SO17

She said he asked how long they could be held before being handed over to the joint forward interrogation team (Jfit), whether they could be hooded and about procedure with food and water.

SO17, who ran Jfit from an internment camp in Umm Qasr in southern Iraq, said the call was made on the night of 15 September 2003.

In a Royal Military Police witness statement she said: "I cannot say whether Baha Mousa was already dead at the time of the phone call, as I do not know when exactly he died, but the phone call definitely seemed to be an exercise in 'covering someone's arse'."

The inquiry in London heard she had "formed the distinct impression" Maj Peebles was hiding something from her.

After Mr Mousa's death, Maj Peebles was charged with negligently performing the duty of ensuring the men under his control did not ill-treat Iraqi prisoners. He was later cleared at a court martial.

The inquiry, which began on 13 July last year, has heard that illegal "conditioning" methods were used on the prisoners.

They included hooding, sleep deprivation and making them stand in painful stress positions with their knees bent and hands outstretched.

The techniques were outlawed in 1972 after an investigation into interrogation in Northern Ireland.

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