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Last Updated: Monday, 24 January, 2005, 19:33 GMT
Iraq camp 'beasting' order denied
L/Cpl Larkin
The court was shown 22 photos depicting alleged abuse
A British Army major has told the court martial of three soldiers on abuse charges that he did not order his men "to beast" Iraqi looters.

Prisoners were allegedly made to run up to three miles with a milk crate on their heads at the Basra aid camp.

But Maj Dan Taylor told the court in Osnabrueck he gave no such order and also denied allowing "trophy photos".

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

Joseph Giret, representing one of the men, asked whether Maj Taylor gave the order to "beast" the Iraqis.

I say you are prepared to let these soldiers be sacrificial lambs so your career can be saved
Joseph Giret, defending, to Maj Taylor

He described it as getting them to "run around the inside wall of the camp, two to three miles, running with milk boxes above their heads".

Maj Taylor denied the accusation, saying: "I wouldn't have permitted it."

He later agreed Iraqis were made to run back into the camp with boxes on their heads to "carry the stuff back to where it came from".

Mr Giret added: "I say you are prepared to let these soldiers be sacrificial lambs so your career can be saved."

Maj Taylor responded: "No sir."

A soldier poses with a group of looters
Detainees were pictured by soldiers as they were captured

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

Cpl Daniel Kenyon and L/Cpl Mark Cooley, from Newcastle upon Tyne, both deny all the charges they face. The soldiers are all from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

Maj Taylor has already told the court martial he told his troops the looters should be "worked hard", to try to stop them returning to Camp Bread Basket.

The defence argues other allegations of mistreatment stem from that order, which the prosecution says breached the Geneva Convention.

One soldier interpreted the order as giving the Iraqis "a good kicking and chucking them over the wall", the court martial heard. Maj Taylor denied ever ordering such a thing.

If somebody ordered Milan Platoon to beast, thrash or give them a good kicking then a good kicking is what they would receive
Stephen Vullo, defending

Stephen Vullo, defending, said Maj Taylor was unwise to order Cpl Kenyon's section, who were "battle-hardened troops", to work the Iraqis hard so they would not return to the camp.

He said: "If somebody ordered Milan Platoon to beast, thrash or give them a good kicking then a good kicking is what they would receive."

Maj Taylor denied using any of these words and said he did not accept the blame for what happened at Camp Bread Basket.

He also denied knowing anything about an Iraqi man, photographed clutching his arm, which the defence says was broken by another soldier.

'Schoolboys on sports day'

And he said he had not ordered Cpl Kenyon's section, Milan Platoon, to take the Iraqis to their "hide", where they slept and stored weapons.

The court was told the mood among soldiers on the day of the alleged abuse was that they were going "Ali Baba hunting".

They were sent out to round up thieves dressed in shorts and training shoes, so they could chase the looters, the court heard.

Mr Vullo, representing L/Cpl Mark Cooley, told Maj Taylor: "The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers won six Victoria Crosses before breakfast at Gallipoli and you wanted them to turn up like schoolboys on sports day."

The court martial was adjourned until Tuesday.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Find out what the Army major told the court martial



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