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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 January, 2005, 16:59 GMT
Judge makes court martial appeal
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
The judge in the court martial of three UK troops accused of abusing civilians in Iraq has appealed for no more public statements to be made on the case.

Judge Advocate Michael Hunter's appeal comes a day after Tony Blair said the photos were "shocking and appalling".

The judge said Mr Blair had had to respond to Commons questions about the case, but called for "great care" in the future to ensure a fair trial.

The soldiers are accused of abusing Iraqi civilians in Basra two years ago.

The Attorney General Lord Goldsmith has also written to newspaper editors warning them not to publish material that could prejudice the court martial.

And MPs in the House of Commons have been told not to comment on the case because of the risk of prejudice.

The three, from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, are accused of using civilians to simulate sex and violence while taking photographs of them.

I ask that great care be taken by those who find it necessary to make public statements not to say anything that might prejudice the fairness of this trial
Judge Advocate Michael Hunter

Twenty-two photographs have been shown to the court in Osnabruck, Germany.

One of the accused, L/Cpl Darren Larkin, admits one assault but denies another charge.

Cpl Daniel Kenyon and L/Cpl Mark Cooley both deny all of the charges they face.

On Thursday the court heard that the soldiers had all performed acts of bravery, with two being singled out for particular praise.

Maj Taylor, the commanding officer who is said to have told his troops to catch looters and "work them hard", began giving evidence on Thursday shortly before proceedings were adjourned until the following day.

Regarding his fears that the case might be prejudiced, the judge told the court martial: "I ask that great care be taken by those who find it necessary to make public statements not to say anything that might prejudice the fairness of this trial."

L/Cpl Larkin
The court was shown 22 photos depicting alleged abuse

But he recognised that Mr Blair's remarks, which came during Prime Minister's Question's, were in response to questions which could not have been "sensibly refused" under the circumstances.

Following the judge's comments, a No 10 spokesman said: "Downing Street takes full note of what Judge Advocate Michael Hunter has said."

And Commons Speaker Michael Martin has told MPs that they could make passing references to the general standards of conduct of British forces, but warned them that he would not allow any comment on specific cases before a court or court martial.

The alleged offences are said to have taken place at an aid camp in Basra known as the Bread Basket, just weeks after coalition troops had ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Find out what the judge said

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