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Last Updated: Saturday, 31 May, 2003, 10:38 GMT 11:38 UK
Shopworker 'sickened' by POW photos
US troops give an injured Iraqi soldier water
Coalition troops had already been accused of mistreating Iraqi POWs
A photography shop assistant has described her horror at photos that allegedly showed Iraqi prisoners of war being mistreated.

Kelly Tilford, 22, raised the alarm after developing the film in the shop where she works in Tamworth, Staffordshire.

She said: "I felt sick when I looked at the pictures. They were grim. I just felt awful."

Military police are continuing to question an 18-year-old British soldier who is in custody in connection with the film.

Ms Tilford said: "There were just a couple of photos with a couple of soldiers in the pictures.

"I showed them to a colleague and she called the police straight away.

"They came to where I work and I had to give them a full statement."

One of the images allegedly showed an Iraqi, bound and gagged, hanging from a rope on a fork-lift truck.

Ms Tilford told the Sun newspaper the Iraqi looked "petrified".

I am as proud as anybody of what our forces did out there - but there are rules
Kelly Tilford

"I will never forget that terrible stare. I immediately thought, 'That's not right'," she said.

She added: "I don't feel guilty about calling in the police. I know people who have been fighting in Iraq.

"I am as proud as anybody of what our forces did out there - but there are rules.

"I would not want any of my friends to be treated like those Iraqis on the photographs.

"We are a great nation. But we would lose our self-respect and much more besides if we allowed ourselves and our troops to stoop this low."

MoD 'appalled'

If the pictures are found to show real Iraqis, the soldiers involved would be in breach of the Geneva Convention which governs the treatment of prisoners of war.

The convention demands that prisoners are treated humanely and not subject to degrading treatment.

He went out to Iraq for his country and we are proud of him
The soldier's father

The mother of the soldier spoke to reporters from the upstairs window of the shop she runs with her husband in a Warwickshire village.

She told reporters: "He does not belong to us any more.

"The Army is his mother. It's the Army which looks after him.

"We have not been able to contact him and we know nothing about what's happened to him, so we're saying nothing."

But the soldier's father, who also cannot be named, said he supports the 18-year-old: "Of course we are proud of our son.

"He went out to Iraq for his country and we are proud of him."

THIRD GENEVA CONVENTION
Many rules about the treatment of POWs including:
Basic food rations should keep prisoners in good health
Suitable clothing should be supplied, preferably prisoners' original uniforms
Prisoners must be protected against violence or intimidation, insults and public curiosity
They should be released and repatriated after ceasefire

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said an investigation into the allegations was under way.

"If there is any truth in these allegations the MoD is appalled. We take responsibility to POWs extremely seriously," she said.

The alleged ill-treatment of Iraqi prisoners by coalition forces is already being investigated by human rights group Amnesty International.

It welcomed the inquiry into the photos, and warned that the allegations must not be "swept under the carpet".

The pictures are believed to have been taken by a soldier serving in the 1st battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers - part of the 7th Armoured Brigade, nicknamed the Desert Rats.

Colonel Bob Stewart, former army officer, said: "If someone has done this then it devalues the British Army which is a great pity.

"That's why the British Army understands that if there's an accusation it must be rigorously pursued and proved either guilty or not guilty."




SEE ALSO:
POW 'torture photos' investigated
30 May 03  |  England
Colonel denies war allegations
22 May 03  |  Northern Ireland
What awaits Iraqi prisoners?
26 Apr 03  |  Middle East
Coalition 'tortured Iraqi POWs'
16 May 03  |  Middle East
Sesame Street breaks Iraqi POWs
20 May 03  |  Middle East
The Desert Rats: From Berlin to Basra
28 Mar 03  |  Newsmakers


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