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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 February, 2005, 15:25 GMT
Soldier's 'abuse' picture shame
L/Cpl Cooley driving a forklift with an Iraqi tied to the fork
L/Cpl Cooley suspended an Iraqi prisoner from a forklift truck
A British soldier who suspended an Iraqi prisoner from a forklift truck was embarrassed by his behaviour, a court martial in Germany heard.

L/Cpl Mark Cooley, 25, who was later diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, said he was moving the man out of the sun's glare.

He denies two charges of abusing Iraqi civilians in May 2003.

L/Cpl Cooley, from Newcastle, also has a previous conviction for assault, the ongoing hearing in Osnabrueck was told.

'Disgraceful conduct'

He was fined 500 after pleading guilty to common assault following a fight with a fellow soldier in November 1999.

L/Cpl Cooley had tried to break up a brawl between soldiers after a night of drinking at a British Legion club in Londonderry.

He now faces a charge of disgraceful conduct of a cruel kind after driving a forklift truck with an Iraqi prisoner suspended from the prongs.

The second charge he faces at the court martial centres on a photograph in which he pretends to punch an Iraqi prisoner at Camp Bread Basket in Basra.

Cpl Daniel Kenyon, 33, from Newcastle, denies five abuse charges at the same court martial.

L/Cpl Darren Larkin, 30, from Greater Manchester, has admitted one assault and faces no other charges.

All three are from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

I was having to drink a lot to get through the days, to get us to sleep. I was tearful, tearfully angry
L/Cpl Mark Cooley

'Trophy photograph'

L/Cpl Cooley told the hearing he placed the prisoner on the forklift truck to move him out of the heat.

He said a group of six or seven soldiers had gathered around and were laughing at his attempts to move the man.

When asked how he felt, he said: "Embarrassed, it really did seem a good idea at the time but afterwards it was like, 'What are you doing?"'

But Maj Russell Clifton, prosecuting, said shadows cast on the photographs "proved" the soldier was lying about moving the man out of the heat into shade.

L/Cpl Cooley admitted to the court that the picture of him posing as if about to punch an Iraqi prisoner was a "trophy photograph".

He told the court he had destroyed the pictures, but not the negatives, immediately after he had had them developed.

"When I seen what it looked like, it wasn't something I would want to keep or show anyone so I got rid of it.

"It's a stupid thing to do, it doesn't show me, I know it shows me but it doesn't show what I am like.

"It just shows a stupid second in time and predicts something that didn't happen."

Drinking and depression

L/Cpl Cooley resigned from the armed forces at the beginning of 2003 and served his notice but is still in the army because of the proceedings against him.

He told the court that when he returned from Iraq he was suffering from nightmares and depression and had begun drinking heavily.

"I was having to drink a lot to get through the days, to get to sleep. I was tearful, tearfully angry. I just wasn't me, I was someone else."

After his mother made him see a doctor for help he was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, he told the court.

During cross-examination, L/Cpl Cooley was asked by Maj Clifton why he had failed to tell police about Iraqi prisoners having the "fear of God put in them" by senior soldiers, about which he had since given evidence to the court.

He admitted lying in his interview with the Royal Military Police because he had not wanted to be "a grass" and out of a sense of loyalty.

Maj Clifton asked: "Loyalty to who?"

L/Cpl Cooley replied: "In an infantry battalion everyone is loyal to everyone, everyone has respect for everyone and that's why we are a great regiment."

The hearing was adjourned until Thursday morning.

L/Cpl Mark Cooley gives evidence to the court martial

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