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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 January, 2005, 18:13 GMT
'Abuse' soldier 'obeyed orders'
L/Cpl Mark Cooley aims a simulated punch at an Iraqi detainee
L/Cpl Mark Cooley (pictured) denies all of the charges
A UK soldier accused of abusing civilians in Iraq is a war hero who had been obeying orders, a court martial has been told.

Cpl Daniel Kenyon, 33, denies several abuse charges at a court martial of three soldiers in Osnabrueck, Germany.

His defence counsel, Joseph Giret, said orders given by commanding officers were to blame for the alleged abuse.

L/Cpl Mark Cooley also denies all charges. L/Cpl Darren Larkin admits one assault but denies another charge.

The three, all from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, face a total of nine abuse allegations.

I hope we do not allow [our disgust at the photographs] to tarnish the good name of the British armed forces
Tony Blair

The alleged offences are said to have taken place at an aid camp known as the Bread Basket in Basra, southern Iraq, on or around 15 May 2003 - just weeks after coalition troops had ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Mr Giret blamed a military plan known as Operation Ali Baba - referring to the story Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves - for the alleged offences.

Camp commander Maj Dan Taylor, responsible for Operation Ali Baba, told his troops to catch looters who had been stealing food and "work them hard", the court heard.

Mr Giret told the court: "The whole reason he [Cpl Kenyon] is in the dock stems from those who gave the order to operate the plan Ali Baba."

This order contravened the Geneva Convention, according to prosecution lawyer Lt Col Nick Clapham.


The court has been shown 22 photographs detailing the alleged abuse.

Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed his "disgust" at the "shocking and appalling" photographs in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

You should have moral courage and when you see something that is wrong, you should report it
Lt Col Nicholas Mercer
Army legal adviser

He told MPs at Prime Minister's Questions that the circumstances in which the alleged events came to take place would be fully investigated by the Army.

But he added: "The vast majority of those 65,000 British soldiers who have served in Iraq have done so with distinction, with courage and with great honour to this country.

"So whilst we express in a unified way, I know, our disgust at those pictures, I hope we do not allow that to tarnish the good name, fully deserved, of the British armed forces."

His view were echoed by Tory leader Michael Howard who said: "The appalling photographs in today's newspapers bring shame on our country.

"But we should recognise they in no way reflect the true character of Britain's armed forces."

'Moral Courage'

Lt Col Nicholas Mercer, senior legal adviser to the Army in Iraq, told the court that soldiers were taught "from the outset" to report any abuse they witnessed.

"What we say is that you should have moral courage and when you see something that is wrong, you should report it," he said.

But he admitted there had been "a number of allegations" that Iraqi civilians were not being treated properly while in custody.

Sketch of Cpl Kenyon, centre, and L/Cpl Cooley, right, in the Osnabruck courtroom
Cpl Kenyon, centre, and L/Cpl Cooley, right, deny the charges

Following these allegations, Col Mercer said he had issued an order stating that detained people should not be assaulted.

He said the rules on treatment of detainees were "straightforward" and involved treating them with "humanity and dignity".

L/Cpl Larkin, 30, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, admitted one charge of assaulting an unknown man in May 2003, but denied another charge.

Cpl Daniel Kenyon, 33, and L/Cpl Mark Cooley, 25, from Newcastle upon Tyne, entered not guilty pleas.

The court martial, expected to last three to four weeks, comes days after a US soldier was sentenced to 10 years in jail for abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib jail, near Baghdad.

A separate court martial involving a further member of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, Pt Gary Bartlam, began at a British Army base in Hohne, Germany, last week.

See the photos shown to the court in Germany

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