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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 July 2005, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
UK soldiers face war crimes trial
Baha Mousa
Baha Mousa died in custody after being arrested in Basra
Three British soldiers are facing war crimes charges as well as criminal charges in connection with the death of a detainee in Iraq in September 2003.

One soldier faces manslaughter charges and two others abuse charges after an operation in which the Iraqi died. Four more soldiers face other charges.

All seven will be tried by British courts martial, not at The Hague.

In a separate case, four soldiers face criminal charges over claims an Iraqi drowned in a canal after being beaten.

One of the 11 men charged is a colonel, the most senior officer to be charged with an offence during the military action in Iraq.

CHARGES OVER MOUSA DEATH
Cpl Donald Payne - manslaughter, inhuman treatment of persons
L/Cpl Wayne Crowcroft - inhuman treatment of persons
Private Darren Fallon - inhuman treatment of persons
Sgt Kelvin Stacey - actual bodily harm, alternatively assault
Warrant Officer Mark Davies - neglecting to perform a duty
Maj Michael Peebles - negligently performing a duty
Col Jorge Mendonca - negligently performing a duty

The charges faced by three of the men - of "inhuman treatment of persons" - were brought under the International Criminal Court Act 2001 and will be tried as war crimes.

The soldiers involved are from the Queen's Lancashire Regiment.

Brigadier Geoffrey Sheldon, the colonel of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, said the death of Baha Mousa, the victim in the first case, was an "isolated, tragic incident which should never have happened and which I and every member of the regiment bitterly regrets".

He added: "It is... particularly difficult for us to learn that Col Mendonca [who initiated the formal inquiry into the death] must himself now answer charges as a result."

But Phil Shiner, lawyer for the Mousa family, said a charge of murder would be more suitable and said it was inappropriate for the British military to try their own.

The charges were announced by the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, in the House of Lords on Tuesday evening.

In the first case, the soldiers are alleged to have committed a number of offences against a group of detainees arrested following a planned operation.

One of the embarrassing things here for the British Army is this investigation has taken two years
Col Tim Collins

One of the detainees, Mr Mousa, a Basra hotel receptionist, was allegedly killed by one of those charged, Corporal Donald Payne, 34, of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment.

Corp Payne is also alleged to have mistreated others and faces charges of manslaughter, inhuman treatment of persons and perverting the course of justice.

Two other members of the regiment, Lance Corporal Wayne Crowcroft, 21, and Private Darren Fallon, 22, also face charges of inhuman treatment of persons.

A fourth serviceman, Sergeant Kelvin Stacey, 28, also of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, is alleged to have assaulted a detainee and faces a charge of assault causing actual bodily harm, or alternatively common assault.

Warrant Officer Mark Davies, 36, of the Intelligence Corps, is charged with neglecting to perform a duty.

Two more senior officers - Major Michael Peebles, 34, of the Intelligence Corps, and Colonel Jorge Mendonca, 41, lately of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment - are charged with negligently performing their duties, contrary to the Army Act 1955.

'Public perception'

Col Tim Collins, famous for his speech on the eve of the war, said the case had taken too long already.

"One of the embarrassing things here for the British Army is this investigation has taken two years. That's far too long."

CHARGES OVER ALI DEATH
Sgt Carle Selman - manslaughter
Gdsm Martin McGing - manslaughter
Gdsm Joseph McCleary - manslaughter
Unnamed lance corporal - manslaughter

Only the charges under the International Criminal Court Act amount to war crimes, the Ministry of Defence says.

BBC diplomatic correspondent Paul Adams said the war crimes label was "something of a technicality" as those charges had existed in normal British military law prior to the introduction of the Act in 2001.

The second case relates to the death of Iraqi civilian Ahmed Jabber Kareem Ali, who was detained in Basra as part of a group of four suspected looters on 8 May 2003.

The men were allegedly punched and kicked before being forced into a canal, where Mr Ali drowned.

Four British soldiers are facing courts martial accused of his manslaughter.

They are: Sgt Carle Selman, 38, then of the Coldstream Guards, now serving with the Scots Guards; Guardsman Martin McGing, 21, of the Irish Guards, Guardsman Joseph McCleary, 23, of the Irish Guards; and a 21-year-old lance corporal, also of the Irish Guards, who has not yet been named.

Defence Secretary John Reid said in a statement that allegations against British servicemen should be investigated but that the men were innocent until proven guilty.

However, Tory MP Ben Wallace, a former soldier in the Scots Guards, criticised the decision to charge the men.

The MP for Lancaster and Wyre said: "If we are charging some of these men with neglect of their duties then we must recognise that the chain of command does not stop with commanding officers but goes right to the door of Number 10."

However, the Muslim Council of Britain said the decision to prosecute could indirectly "blunt" the appeal of Islamic extremism.

MCB spokesman Inayat Bunglawala said a "tiny group of extremists" had used the Iraq war as a "propaganda tool for recruitment".

"This kind of trial may help restore some confidence that British troops, if they are found to have abused their position, will be brought to account," he said.




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