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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 July, 2004, 15:41 GMT 16:41 UK
UK troops 'beat Iraqi to death'
Kifah Al-Mutari arrives at court
British soldiers killed a 26-year-old Iraqi civilian by repeatedly beating him on the neck, chest and genital areas, High Court judges have heard.

Baha Mousa was one of six Iraqis whose families are challenging the UK Government's decision not to hold an independent inquiry into their deaths.

Fellow hotel worker Kifah Taha al-Mutari said soldiers competed to see who could kick detainees the furthest.

The six test cases include the shootings of four Iraqi civilians.

The victims were either at home, walking in the street or driving when they were shot, allegedly by soldiers from the Kings Regiment.

The deaths of Mr Mousa and an Iraqi police commissioner shot while on his way to a judge's house were allegedly caused by soldiers from the Queen's Lancashire Regiment.

I wish to know why I was detained and treated so badly by British troops and I believe there should be an independent investigation
Kifah Taha Al-Mutari

Two High Court judges must decide whether the Human Rights Act 1998 applies to the British troops in south east Iraq during the period of occupation and, if so, whether there should be an independent inquiry to investigate the alleged post-war deaths of a total of 37 Iraqi civilians.

Rabinder Singh QC, appearing for the Iraqis in the six test cases, told the judges European human rights laws, which protect the right to life and freedom from torture or inhuman and degrading treatment, applied to troops in Iraq and the government was obliged to investigate.

But lawyers for Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon say the Human Rights Act, which incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights into UK domestic law, can only be applied inside UK territory.

During his opening, Mr Singh read from a witness statement from Mr al-Mutari, who was arrested at the same time as Mr Mousa and five other hotel workers.

He alleged detainees at a British military base called Darul Dhyafa were beaten on the neck, chest and genital areas, hooded, deprived of sleep, and had freezing water poured over them.

'Freezing water'

"We all had another hood put on top of the first hood.

"We were given water by it being poured over the hood so that we had to lick the droplets that seeped through the hood.

"Freezing water was poured on to us and this was very painful as the temperatures in detention were 40 degrees plus."

Mr al-Mutari added: "Soldiers took turns in abusing us.

'Beaten severely'

"At night the number of soldiers increased, sometimes to eight at a time.

"We were prevented from sleeping throughout the three days as soldiers introduced the 'names game'.

"Soldiers would mention some English names of stars or [football] players and request us to remember them, or we would be beaten severely."

Mr al-Mutari said: "One terrible game the soldiers played involved kickboxing.

'Jabbing movements'

"The soldiers would surround us and compete as to who could kickbox one of us the furthest.

"The idea was to try and make us crash into the wall."

Mr Mousa, who "appeared to have much worse ill-treatment than the others", was then taken to another room, where he allegedly received more beatings.

Mr al-Mutari added: "On the third night Baha was in a separate room and I could hear him moaning through the walls.

"He was saying that he was bleeding from his nose and that he was dying.

"I heard him say, 'I am dying... blood... blood...'.

"I heard nothing further from him after that."

Blood and bruises

A witness statement by Mr Mousa's father, Daoud Mousa, was also before the court.

In it he recalled seeing his son's body covered in blood and bruises: "He had a badly broken nose. There was blood coming from his nose and mouth. The skin on one side of his face had been torn away to reveal the flesh beneath.

"There were severe patches of bruising over all of his body. The skin on his wrists had been torn off and the skin on his forehead torn away and there was no skin under his eyes either.

"I literally could not bear to look at him."

The case continues.

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