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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 September 2006, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Iraqi hotelier denies arms claims
Ahmad al-Matairi
Mr Matairi said he was kicked and beaten by the troops
An Iraqi hotel owner who said he was abused by UK troops during a raid has denied claims that he was an insurgent.

Lawyers defending British soldiers at a court martial accused Ahmad al-Matairi of stashing grenades and guns in his hotel in Basra, southern Iraq.

Baha Mousa, the hotel's 26-year-old receptionist, died in British custody after the raid in 2003.

Seven soldiers deny various charges including manslaughter and negligence at the hearing in Bulford, Wiltshire.

Among the accused is Corporal Donald Payne, 35, of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, who denies the killing but has admitted to inhumane treatment of prisoners.

The offence is officially classed as a war crime, making him the first British servicemen to admit to being a war criminal.

Saddam accusation

Under cross-examination, Mr Matairi was also accused by Geoffrey Cox QC of having Soviet army uniforms and videos of punishment beatings.

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

Mr Matairi said that, apart from some lawfully-owned rifles used for protection, the bulk of the arms belonged to the hotel's co-owner.

Of the videos, Mr Matairi said to Mr Cox: "I challenge you, if you have such a video tape, show it now. You are lying."

Mr Cox questioned Mr Matairi on allegations that he had exaggerated the injuries he suffered during his detention.

Mr Matairi responded through his interpreter: "And Saddam Hussein has massive graves and his representatives try to justify it for him."

The men detained at the Basra hotel on 14 September 2003 claim they were held for 36 hours, kept hooded, cuffed, deprived of sleep and beaten for failing to maintain stress positions.

The hearing continues.

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