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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 September 2006, 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK
Mercy urged for UK war criminal
Ahmad al-Matairi
Mr Matairi claims he was beaten by British soldiers
An Iraqi allegedly abused by British soldiers has urged a court to have mercy on the UK's first war criminal.

Hotel owner Ahmad Taha Musa Al-Matairi said he was hit, but asked for Corporal Donald Payne to be handled "with care".

Cpl Payne, 35, admitted at a court martial the war crime of inhumanely treating Iraqi civilian detainees.

Cpl Payne and six other UK soldiers deny all other charges relating to alleged abuse in Basra, southern Iraq, in 2003 in which one person died.

'Not exaggerating'

Mr Al-Matairi was accused in cross-examination at the court martial at Bulford Camp, Wiltshire, of exaggerating his injuries in order to get a larger compensation payout.

But he said: "I am not exaggerating. I was hit, I got a hernia, somebody died. That's a proof. I got taken out on a stretcher. That's a proof."

Then he added: "I would ask the court to handle with care the person who admitted the crime."

It is alleged a group of suspected insurgents arrested at a Basra hotel on 14 September 2003 were detained for 36 hours, kept hooded, cuffed, deprived of sleep and beaten for failing to maintain stress positions.

Hotel receptionist Baha Mousa, 26, died while in custody.

Cpl Donald Payne - manslaughter, inhumane treatment of persons, perverting the course of justice
L/Cpl Wayne Crowcroft - inhumane treatment of persons
Pte Darren Fallon - inhumane treatment of persons
Sgt Kelvin Stacey - actual bodily harm, alternatively assault
Warrant Officer Mark Davies - negligently performing a duty
Maj Michael Peebles - negligently performing a duty
Col Jorge Mendonca - negligently performing a duty

The inhumane treatment of persons charge faced by three soldiers - Cpl Donald Payne, L/Cpl Wayne Crowcroft and Pte Darren Fallon - is being brought as a war crime charge under the International Criminal Court Act (ICCA) 2001.

It is the first time British military personnel have been prosecuted under the act.

Cpl Payne, 35, pleaded guilty to treating detainees inhumanely at the start of the court martial - making him the first British serviceman to admit a war crime.

He denies manslaughter and perverting the course of justice.

The other six soldiers each deny the charges they face.

Col Jorge Mendonca, Maj Michael Peebles and Warrant Officer Mark Davies are all charged with negligently performing a duty.

Sgt Kelvin Stacey is accused of assault occasioning actual bodily harm with an alternative count of common assault.

L/Cpl Wayne Crowcroft and Pte Darren Fallon are charged with inhumane treatment of persons.

The case continues.

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