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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 November 2006, 18:10 GMT
UK troops 'bragged over beatings'
The Military Court at Bulford Military Camp in Wiltshire
Seven men are on trial at the military court in Wiltshire
UK troops abused Iraqis detainees and later bragged about it, a soldier has told a court martial.

Private Jonathan Lee told the hearing at Bulford Camp, Wiltshire, that he saw three regimental colleagues beating hooded Iraqi prisoners.

He accused Lance Corporal Wayne Crowcroft, 22, Private Darren Fallon, 23, and Sergeant Kelvin Stacey, 29.

The three men, among seven on trial, deny abusing prisoners in 2003, charges which contravene international law.

It is alleged that in September 2003, Queen's Lancashire regiment (QLR) soldiers held the Iraqis for 36 hours, keeping them cuffed, hooded and deprived of sleep. They are also accused of beating them for failing to maintain "stress positions".

The prosecution says these are pre-interrogation "conditioning" methods which are banned under international law.

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

One of the seven accused, Cpl Donald Payne, has admitted the war crime of inhumanely treating civilian detainees in southern Iraq. But he denies other charges relating to the alleged abuse.

Pte Lee, who is now attached to the Royal Engineers, told the court martial that Stacey laughed as Fallon and Crowcroft repeatedly punched and kicked the suspected insurgents.

He said of Fallon: "I saw him go up to individuals and punch and kick them as they fell to the floor. He would drag them up, put them back into stress positions and wait for them to fall and he would do it again and again."

He added that Crowcroft "did exactly the same."

When Pte Lee remarked that one of the detainees was holding his position well, Stacey kicked his feet from under him and the detainee fell to the floor, the trial heard.

Pte Lee said Stacey then stamped on the detainee's neck and punched him repeatedly.

'Showing off'

He told the court later that day back at the barracks Crowcroft and Fallon were "showing off" about the bruises and cuts to their knuckles and feet which resulted from "beating up" the Iraqis.

Baha Mousa
Hotel receptionist Baha Mousa died in custody in 2003

The charges faced by the seven soldiers at the Military Court Centre, at Bulford Camp also relate to the death of Baha Mousa, 26, in custody in Basra.

Mr Mousa, a hotel receptionist, was among a group of detainees arrested following a counter-insurgency operation in September 2003.

Pte Lee said that when it emerged the following day that one of the detainees, Mr Mousa, had died, "panic" went round the camp because military police were coming to take statements.

He told the court he overheard a conversation between Crowcroft and Fallon in which they agreed that "nothing had happened".

In cross-examination, Richard Ferguson QC, for Crowcroft, said Pte Lee was a "fantasist" who made up his account.

He called Pte Lee a weakling and failed infantry solider and said he had served time in a military jail for going absent without leave from the QLR.

L/Cpl Crowcroft and Pte Fallon, formerly of the QLR, which is now the Duke of Lancaster Regiment, deny the charge of inhumane treatment.

Sgt Stacey denies assault occasioning actual bodily harm, with an alternative count of common assault.

In September, Cpl Payne, 35, of the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, became the first British soldier to admit to a war crime after pleading guilty to the inhumane treatment charge.

He denies further charges of perverting the course of justice and manslaughter.

Maj Michael Peebles, 35, and Warrant Officer Mark Davies, 37, both of the Intelligence Corps, face charges of negligently performing a duty.

And Col Jorge Mendonca, 42, formerly commander of the QLR, is charged with negligently performing his duties.

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