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Last Updated: Monday, 3 May, 2004, 08:45 GMT 09:45 UK
UK troops 'swapped abuse photos'
Daily Mirror front page
The Mirror has rejected allegations the pictures were fake
British soldiers have swapped hundreds of photos showing brutality against Iraqi captives, it has been claimed.

The allegations are made by two soldiers who gave the Daily Mirror images which apppear to show soldiers torturing an Iraqi prisoner.

Army sources have raised doubts about whether the images are genuine.

But the two serving members of The Queen's Lancashire Regiment have stood by their story and say: "The Army knows a lot more has happened."

One said: "Maybe the officers don't know what is going on - but everybody else does. I have seen literally hundreds of pictures."

'Baton attack'

Doubts were cast over the weekend about photos published in Saturday's Mirror appearing to show a hooded man being struck with a rifle butt, urinated on and having a gun held to his head.

But the two soldiers who gave these images to the paper say they represent only the tip of the iceberg.

In Monday's Mirror the soldiers, who wish to remain anonymous, claim many pictures were destroyed in September when the troops' luggage was searched as they left Iraq.

They also detail other alleged incidents of brutality towards local people, including a baton attack which left a prisoner with a compound fracture to his arm.

The people that carried out these sickening acts simply have no place in the British Army
Piers Morgan
Daily Mirror editor

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said the authorities were not aware of other photos of prisoners being mistreated or of a culture of trading pictures.

"If people have got evidence of such activity, then they should bring it to the attention of the Army authorities. We won't stand for activity like that," he said.

The MoD spokesman was unable to confirm reports the regiment was given a dressing down in their Cyprus base by a senior officer.

The Mirror's editor Piers Morgan earlier said the alleged abuse had been "common knowledge among disgusted British servicemen in Basra for months".

Suspicion

An investigation has already begun into the claims, also carried in the Mirror, that British troops assaulted the prisoner pictured in the paper, before throwing him from a lorry.

BBC defence correspondent Paul Adams said sources close to The Queen's Lancashire Regiment were suspicious about the authenticity of the photographs questioning whether the rifle, hats and truck pictured matched those issued to men in Iraq.

Daily Mirror picture
The images have already been seen in the Middle East
And they asked why there appeared to be no sign of sweat, dirt or injuries on the body of the alleged victim.

Colonel David Black, a former commander of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, told the BBC he was "dismayed" and "disgusted" with the allegations.

"We believe that they're faked and they're staged. We also believe that they were not actually taken in Iraq itself".

But he said the damage already done to the coalition's reputation in Iraq was "immeasurable" and he challenged the Mirror to co-operate with the investigation fully:

"We want to know the names of these people. If such an incident has really taken place let's have the names and let's get these people sorted out."

The furore over the Mirror photographs followed an outcry over images broadcast by CBS television last week showing the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US guards at a notorious Baghdad jail.

US President George W Bush has said he is deeply disgusted by the alleged abuses.

A number of soldiers face court martial and a possible prison term over the pictures taken at the notorious Abu Ghraib detention facility in Baghdad.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Paul Adams
"The Daily Mirror is standing by its story"



SEE ALSO:
Pentagon looks into abuse scandal
03 May 04  |  Middle East


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