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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 January, 2005, 13:46 GMT
Major 'destroyed abuse evidence'
L/Cpl Larkin
The court was shown 22 photos depicting alleged abuse
The commanding officer of three British soldiers accused of abusing prisoners destroyed his records two weeks before their court martial, a court has heard.

The soldiers are accused of abusing and assaulting Iraqi looters at an aid camp in Basra, southern Iraq, in May 2003.

Maj Dan Taylor admits telling the troops to "work them hard" but denies ordering them to "beast" the prisoners.

At the hearing, in Germany, he denied destroying the notebooks because they proved he was being untruthful.

They had in fact contained no relevant information about the case, he told the Osnabrueck court.

Maj Taylor was giving evidence to the court martial of Cpl Daniel Kenyon, L/Cpl Mark Cooley and L/Cpl Darren Larkin, who are alleged to have mistreated the prisoners during an operation to round up and deter looters.

Earlier in the hearings, Maj Taylor said he ordered his men to work the looters hard because it was the only way to stop them stealing from the camp.

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

Prosecution lawyers say his order breached the Geneva Convention.

On Tuesday, the court heard Maj Taylor was called to a disciplinary meeting with Brigadier Nick Carter on 14 January this year.

After the meeting, he was told he would not face court martial for giving the order, which defence lawyers say led to the alleged mistreatment of the prisoners.

Before the January meeting, Maj Taylor was said to have telephoned several senior officers at the camp, who are now appearing as witnesses at the court martial.

Defence lawyer Stephen Vullo, representing L/Cpl Cooley, suggested to Maj Taylor at the hearing that this was his way of "getting your story straight".

Referring to lost notebooks, he said: "You have thrown them away because they would prove you are not telling the truth."

Maj Taylor replied "No, I haven't, sir."

Maj Taylor's commanding officer, Col David Paterson, told the court he had not been briefed in detail about the troops' mission to capture looters, which was christened Operation Ali Baba.


"The looters were going to be rounded up at first light and then brought back into the camp," he said.

"I had assumed they would then be handed to the Royal Military Police. Obviously, I now know they were not."

During cross-examination, Col Paterson said he did not know at the time that "working" captured Iraqis was against the Geneva Conventions.

He said he had told his troops before the war that prisoners and civilians were to be treated "humanely and within the rules of war".

"I wanted my troops to be absolutely clear that this was not something to be taken lightly and that prisoners of war were to be treated properly at all times."

He later told them that no "novel solutions" were to be used against looters.

Defendant L/Cpl Larkin, of Oldham, Greater Manchester, admits one charge of assaulting a prisoner but denies another charge.

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

The trial continues.

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