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Last Updated: Monday, 14 June, 2004, 17:39 GMT 18:39 UK
Four UK troops face court martial
British soldier in Basra
Amnesty detailed alleged torture by UK troops in Iraq
Four British soldiers face courts martial in relation to allegations of abuse of Iraqi prisoners, Attorney General Lord Goldsmith has said.

The four are understood to be accused of assault, indecent assault and failing to prevent assaults.

Lord Goldsmith delivered the news in a written statement to peers on Monday.

Abuse allegations against British forces came after pictures were published of mistreatment by US forces at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Public trial

The decision to proceed to trial in the case of the four British soldiers was made by the Army Prosecuting Authority (APA).

The four soldiers are members of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and, according to the Ministry of Defence, are normally based in Germany.

The indecent assault charge is understood to have involved making victims engage in sexual activity between themselves.

There are also charges of "prejudicing good order and military discipline".

The charges relate to allegations made by staff at a shop in Tamworth who were unhappy with some of the images they had been asked to develop.

Photo shop assistant Kelly Tilford contacted police after developing film believed to have been taken by a soldier in the regiment.

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

Ms Tilford, 22, said at the time she had been "sickened" by the pictures.

A date for the trial - which will be held in public - will be set in due course.

Charge dismissed

Lord Goldsmith said that at least "four other cases" were likely to be referred to the APA in the near future.

A further case about the alleged unlawful killing of an Iraqi during an arrest has been referred to the Crown Prosecution Service which has asked the Metropolitan Police to investigate.

That is because the charges in the case had already been dismissed by the accused soldier's commanding officer meaning he could not be tried by court martial.

In his statement, Lord Goldsmith stressed the APA - which is under his supervision - operated independently of the military chain of command.

The BBC's Paul Adams
"At this crucial moment the military can ill afford bad publicity"

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