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Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 05:04 GMT
UK investigates Saudi torture claims
David Mornin
David Mornin was among the Britons held
The Foreign Office is contacting Saudi Arabia after claims by four Britons that they were tortured by police who questioned them about a bombing campaign.

The men were among a group of Westerners arrested during a series of explosions in which a British man and an American were killed.

I wasn't allowed to sleep for seven days and nights

Paul Moss

They faced 1,600 lashes between them and up to two-and-a-half years in jail after being convicted in May last year of illegally dealing in alcohol.

But they were released last month.

Four other Britons, a Canadian and a Belgian are still being held.

If convicted of the bomb offences, the men face execution by beheading under Saudi's Islamic sharia law.

One of the freed men Paul Moss, who now lives in Australia, told the BBC: "I was slapped around daily then I was beaten on four occasions quite severely using a stick.

"But the main torture that really got to me was I wasn't allowed to sleep for seven days and nights and being forced to stand up and sit down every 20 minutes in a room with no windows."

David Mornin, from Scotland, and Kelvin Hawkins, from Yorkshire, have also claimed in Wednesday's Guardian newspaper that they were tortured.

The paper said the treatment of the four, who included Ken Hartley, was designed to force a confession to a string of bombings against Western expatriates, which started in November 2000 in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

'Vigorous representations'

The Foreign Office said in a statement it was "very concerned" about the cases.

It said the torture allegations had first come to its attention last year and that it had taken up the case of four Britons still being detained with Saudi ministers.

"We have pursued the cases since then.

"This has included vigorous representations by ministers and senior officials and we continue to do so.

"We have stressed to the Saudis their legal obligation to treat the men properly."

The Saudi embassy in London told The Guardian: "We don't use torture. It is anti-Islamic.

"The ambassador will be making a full statement in due course."

The BBC's Adam Brimelow
"One of the men says the police were clearly seeking forced confessions"
See also:

08 Feb 01 | Middle East
Getting a drink in Saudi Arabia
05 Feb 01 | Scotland
'Shock' at Saudi bomb arrests
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