First Published: 2004-05-03

 
Daily Mirror: Iraq prisoner abuse photos genuine
 

David Kay suggests photographs have lent weight to calls for coalition troops to withdraw from Iraq.

 

Middle East Online

Blair condemned the photos - if genuine

LONDON - The London newspaper which published pictures apparently showing British troops abusing an Iraqi detainee on Monday denied suggestions that they are fakes.

Doubts arose Sunday over the authenticity of the shocking photos, after military sources quoted by the BBC said many aspects of the pictures were suspicious.

The British military has launched an investigation into photographs published Saturday in Britain's mass-circulation Daily Mirror newspaper appearing to show troops beating and urinating on a hooded Iraqi prisoner in a camp near Basra in British-controlled southern Iraq.

The Daily Mirror, an opponent of the Iraq war, said that the prisoner, aged 18-20, was savagely beaten before being thrown from a moving truck.

However, Britain's national broadcaster said unnamed sources close to the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, from whose soldiers the Daily Mirror said it had obtained the photos, believed several aspects of the pictures are suspicious.

The rifle appears to be an SA80 mk 1, which was not issued to soldiers in Iraq. Troops wear berets or hard hats, not the floppy hats as seen in the pictures. The truck in the photo also appears to be a type never used in Iraq.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Saturday condemned the photos - if genuine - as "completely and utterly unacceptable".

Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan said Sunday he stood by the story and hinted at more revelations after "sensational interviews" with the soldiers who provided them.

"We told the truth" the paper's Monday edition quoted the two British soldiers in question as saying.

"We stand by every single word of our story," they told the paper under cover of anonymity.

"This happened, it is not a hoax and the Army knows a lot more has happened," the pair were quoted as saying.

The anonymous sources added that the British army knew there were other pictures of similar incidents of prisoner abuse in Iraq.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw appeared to leave the door open to possible compensation for any victims, though he stressed it was too early to prejudge the outcome of an inquiry underway.

"Of course it follows that we will accept whatever obligations there are upon us," he told BBC television.

"These allegations are taken extremely seriously and they will be investigated thoroughly."

The publication of the photographs in Britain came after pictures broadcast throughout the world appearing to show US soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners drew condemnation from international leaders.

Meanwhile fresh claims emerged of mistreatment of Iraqi detainees by British troops.

The television programme GMTV, on Britain's independent ITV channel, read out an account of an anonymous officer serving in the British army saying that abuse of Iraqi prisoners "was definitely heard of".

Fellow officers were "hugely annoyed and upset about it", he said.

He added "...people were literally getting serious, serious beating or kickings when they were plasticuffed - you're talking broken ribs, punctured lungs sort of thing."

The former chief of the group of experts responsible for finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, David Kay, also waded into the debate, suggesting the photographs had lent weight to calls for coalition troops to withdraw.

"We are clearly at a crisis point," said Kay, who resigned in January saying there were no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Coalition troops must decide whether to stay in the country or accept they were "becoming the issue" and withdraw, he said.

 

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