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Last Updated: Friday, 14 May, 2004, 17:49 GMT 18:49 UK
Q&A: UK troops in Iraq abuse row
British soldier in Basra
British troop activities have come under scrutiny
BBC News Online outlines the issues surrounding the allegations against UK troops about abuse of Iraqi prisoners.

What were the allegations made in the Daily Mirror?

The Daily Mirror published photos allegedly showing UK troops abusing an Iraqi prisoner.

Eleven days later Armed Forces minister Adam Ingram told Parliament the pictures were "categorically" not taken in Iraq.

And on Friday editor Piers Morgan was sacked, as the paper said that although the pictures were published in good faith, there was now enough evidence to suggest the paper had been the subject of a "calculated and malicious hoax".

What reports have there been about alleged abuse by UK troops?

The Red Cross has reported cases of abuse of arrested Iraqi men, one of whom died after being "severely beaten".

The cases came to light during an investigation of coalition prison facilities in central and southern Iraq by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The ICRC sent its confidential report to US and UK officials in February.

The issue of UK troops unlawfully killing Iraqi civilians has been raised by Amnesty International.

It claims the deaths occurred when the troops were under no threat from the people, including an 8-year-old girl and a man who was celebrating a wedding.

How many inquiries are there?

The Royal Military Police has investigated the Daily Mirror photos, and have questioned at least one soldier.

Prosecutors have been given the results of the inquiry and are considering whether to start legal proceedings.

Amnesty said many of the civilian deaths were not investigated. The few inquiries that were held were done "secretly" by RMP.

Mr Hoon has said that 33 cases of prisoner abuse among British forces had been investigated, or were still in the process of being investigated. Two are close to prosecution.

There was no case to answer on 15 of the cases.

Was the government aware of the abuse reports?

There is confusion about when and who within the government knew about the Red Cross and Amnesty International reports.

Amnesty International said it raised concerns with UK authorities a year ago, while the Red Cross said it told US officials about the same time.

On 4 May, Mr Ingram told the Commons he had not received any detailed reports from the Red Cross or Amnesty, but had had communications with them.

Defence minister Geoff Hoon said ministers had only seen the Red Cross report recently - in February.

However, Prime Minister Tony Blair said on 10 May that he was only aware of specific abuse allegations when he saw them in the newspapers.

He added that the Red Cross February report had not gone to ministers earlier because allegations were already being probed.




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