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Monday, 2 December, 2002, 14:03 GMT
'Saddam's men tortured me'
Iraqi prisoners awaiting a recent amnesty
During his five and a half years in Iraqi prisons, Kuwaiti Rad Bann, 38, suffered the very types of torture outlined in a dossier of human rights abuses newly released by the UK government.

When they brought me to the Baghdad intelligence headquarters, they told me nobody would ever call me by my name again.

Wreckage of the Gulf War
Rad Bann was arrested by the invading Iraqis
The first time they called my number, 877, I thought they would be normal humans and would just talk to me. I was beaten, but they asked me no questions.

Back in my cell, I told an Iraqi prisoner they'd asked me nothing. 'They will call you back,' he said. And they did.

I was first arrested in Kuwait just before the Allied invasion. I was accused of stealing my own car - the Iraqi soldiers wanted it for themselves.

Thrown to the dogs

I was taken across the border to Basra. I was beaten. I was held in a large hall where they put people against the wall and shot them. Their bodies were just thrown into the street. We saw dogs eating them.

I was released, re-arrested and eventually re-released. I tried to escape Iraq, but in a hotel in Mosul I was secretly filmed calling Saddam Hussein a son of a bitch when he came on TV.

I don't know why they tortured me. For fun.

I was astonished when the Iraqis showed me the video, they had put a camera inside the TV.

I was taken to intelligence HQ, a multi-storey car park divided up into cells and torture chambers.

My cell was dark. There was room for two or three men, but we were often seven, sleeping head-to-feet under our flea-ridden blankets. There were new pyjamas when I arrived, but there was no washing after that.

'Drive our car bombs'

In Kuwait I was a very successful singer, performing at royal parties. The Iraqis wanted me to work for them - to drive a car filled with bombs to one of these parties.

Iraqi security forces
Mr Bann was arrested several times
I said: 'Yes, yes, but how?' They wanted to bring my Iraqi-born mother back to Iraq as a guarantee I would do as I was ordered. I told them that was impossible. After that, the torture got worse.

I don't know why they tortured me. For fun or because they didn't have anything else to do.

Because my family left for Kuwait after I was born and because I have the names of my British grandfather - John Charles Herbert - the Iraqis didn't know what to make of me.

Beaten with metal bars

When they beat me they asked if I was a spy working for the Americans or British. Whatever I'd say, they'd reply that I was not telling the truth.

Four of my toenails were pulled out with pliers

They beat me with hoses and sticks. If it is not important that the prisoner survives, they use metal bars. I saw people with broken backs.

I had electric wires applied to my ears. I was made to sit on a bottle. I was held down while one of them pushed the bottle with his foot.

I had needles put under my nails. Four of my toenails were pulled out with pliers.

Brink of starvation

Sometimes I would black-out and wake up back in my cell. Other times they would throw water on me to wake me up for more torture. Sometimes they would stop for lunch and come back to torture me when they had eaten.

We had no proper food, only enough that we didn't die. A small piece of bread. Hot water with salt and a few beans. For five years. I was skin and bones.

A Baghdad mural or Saddam Hussein
Mr Bann insulted Saddam Hussein's image on TV
A man in the cell beside ours became sick. His cellmate told the guard. 'If you knock again, I'll break your hand. Only call when he dies.' The next morning the prisoner knocked and the body was dragged out and left in the corridor.

I had seen so much killing around me - hanging here, shooting there - that I thought I was just in the queue.

Another prisoner was hanged for swearing about Saddam - the same crime as me. The other prisoners reassured me, saying it was the third time he had sworn.

The people who tortured me should be brought to justice, but I don't think it will happen. Who would you put into the dock?

It's not just Saddam Hussein. He has brought up a generation - many thousands of people - who are eager to please him. Please him by beating, torturing and killing.

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See also:

02 Dec 02 | Politics
02 Dec 02 | Politics
02 Dec 02 | Middle East
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