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Last Updated: Friday, 21 January, 2005, 15:16 GMT
Officer's orders 'led to abuse'
A soldier poses with a group of looters
Detainees were pictured by the soldiers as they were captured
Orders from their commanding officer to "work hard" Iraqi looters led to three UK soldiers facing abuse charges, a court martial has been told.

Defence lawyer Joseph Giret said Major Dan Taylor had gone against his superiors' wishes in issuing the order.

The major said he believed there was no other way to stop rife looting from his Basra aid camp, Camp Bread Basket.

One soldier admits one assault but all three deny all the other charges they face.

There did not appear to be any other way we could prevent that looting, short of doing what the locals wanted us to do, which was shoot people
Major Dan Taylor

Maj Taylor admitted giving the order to work detainees hard - an order which breached the Geneva Convention prosecution lawyers have said.

He said the plan, nicknamed Operation Ali Baba, was to "round up as many men as we could, work them for an hour or so and then release them".

"There did not appear to be any other way we could prevent that looting, short of doing what the locals wanted us to do, which was shoot people," he told the court.

The major insisted he had made the order with the agreement of his superior officers.

'Mish-mash'

But Mr Giret mocked the major's operation, describing it as "operation mish-mash".

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

He said: "You went against accepted policy, you went against the expressed instructions of your commander not to use novel solutions.

"It is precisely your order that resulted in these three soldiers being charged on very serious offences."

Maj Taylor replied: "No sir".

The court heard how the major escaped serious punishment following the alleged incidents, which took place in May 2003.

'Misguided zeal'

Instead, he was talked to by several officers in a process known in army slang as "interview without coffee".

The officers concluded that he was guilty of no more than "misguided zeal".

Twenty-two photographs have been shown at the trial of the three soldiers, who all serve with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

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.

The alleged offences are said to have taken place at the Basra camp just weeks after coalition troops had ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The court martial continues on Monday.


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