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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 July 2005, 09:44 GMT 10:44 UK
Regiment's statement on Mousa charges
This is the full statement made by Brigadier Geoffrey Sheldon, Colonel of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, as seven soldiers face charges over the death of Baha Mousa.

Queen's Lancashire Regiment barracks
620 soldiers from the regiment have been serving in Iraq

From the moment that Mr Baha Mousa lost his life while in our custody, the regiment has made clear that this was an isolated, tragic incident which should never have happened and which I and every member of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment bitterly regrets.

While there can never be justification for what is alleged to have occurred, it must not be forgotten that Basra in September 2003 was an intensely dangerous and violently difficult city suffering from rampant unrest, economic devastation and administrative chaos.

By the time of Mr Mousa's death, the 620 young men of this regiment had been facing, every day, a very high level of bombings, shootings, and terrorist and criminal activity for over two months.

Soldier casualties

Despite suffering casualties of one dead and 36 men wounded sufficiently seriously to require evacuation to the UK, they nevertheless conducted themselves so well that their performance was, and is, widely recognised both within the Army and elsewhere, as amongst the best of any British unit yet to serve in Iraq.

We demand a very great deal of our young men at times such as that, and I ask that it be borne in mind at this difficult time
Brigadier Geoffrey Sheldon

We demand a very great deal of our young men at times such as that, and I ask that it be borne in mind at this difficult time.

It was Colonel Jorge Mendonca, then the commanding officer, who, as soon as he learned of Mr Mousa's death, initiated the formal inquiry which has now resulted in these charges being brought.

It is therefore particularly difficult for us to learn that Col Mendonca must himself now answer charges as a result.

Nevertheless, as we have also always emphasised, the Queen's Lancashire Regiment fully supports the investigation and, if members of the regiment are found not to have maintained the high standards which we demand of them, their appropriate punishment under the law.

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