Page last updated at 17:31 GMT, Thursday, 31 January 2008

Judge allows Iraq 'abuse' reports

British troops in Basra Province
British troops are alleged to have tortured Iraqis after an ambush

A legal order which had stopped the media from reporting allegations of torture by British troops in Iraq has been lifted by the High Court.

The abuse is said to have taken place after British soldiers were ambushed between Basra and Amara in May 2004.

After the exchange of fire that followed, 31 Iraqis were reportedly taken into British custody at Abu Naji.

Their families allege that 22 of them died and nine were tortured. The MoD denied any wrongdoing by UK troops.

Iraqi death certificates are said to state that the dead Iraqis showed signs of torture and mutilation.

The testimonies of five witnesses "combine to give a harrowing account of what took place", according to their lawyers.

Public inquiry

The Ministry of Defence has also denied there is any evidence of mutilation.

The gagging order was imposed by Lord Justice Thomas at the High Court in London last December.

It prevented the naming of any of the Iraqi claimants or the reporting of their testimonies, until a final decision was taken about whether any of the British soldiers would face prosecution.

But now Lord Justice Moses has decided to overturn the ban completely, and ruled there was "ample material" to support the view that legal proceedings should be made public.

Iraqi families and several people who say they are survivors of the incident are due at the High Court soon, where they will be seeking compensation and a public inquiry.

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