Yesterday, December 22, 2012, the British authorities finally settled some of the maltreatment claims against military personnel which dated back to the Iraqi conflict. The actions shown in the footage were shameful and inexcusable.
If nothing else this brutality sends out a clear signal to those who may capture Westerners. If they were to follow the example of some in the British Military then heaven help them all.
The MoD has paid out £14mil in compensation to more than 200 complainants. Before any reader decides to make excuses for the behaviour of those who carried out the crimes it is worth noting that they were apparently following recognised procedures.
Military interrogators worked in a barbaric way which breached human rights. A spokesperson for the MoD said, "Over 120,000 British troops have served in Iraq and the vast majority have conducted themselves with the highest standards of integrity and professionalism. “All allegations of abuse will always be investigated thoroughly. We will compensate victims of abuse where it is right to do so and seek to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice."
A total of £8.3m was paid to 162 Iraqis this year, while 17 received pay-outs last year and 26 in 2010, a national newspaper reported. The average pay-out to the 205 people who have successfully brought claims against the MoD amounted to nearly £70,000. The MoD said it was investigating every abuse allegation made against British troops.
The number of Iraqi claims, and the amount that have already been proven, indicates that something is or was rotten in the British Army. That institution now stands accused of systemic abuse.
Considering that our invasion of Iraq was suspect, to say the least, it is all the more shocking. It was not a case of fighting a brutal war for a good cause, but rather imposing our will on another country. The vague claims of Weapons of Mass Destruction was never proven and as those countries who invaded all had, and still have massive arsenals, it was a farce.
Money as compensation only goes so far in such cases. In order for the victims to feel that justice is served people need to be held accountable. There have been calls for an independent inquiry but whether that will happen is not known. It is doubtful.
We have reported in the past on one Iraqi who was beaten to death by British soldiers. Baha Mousa suffered fatal injuries at the hands of members of the British Military. A British Doctor who tried to treat Mr Mousa failed to report what he found and ultimately was struck off as a medical practitioner. There had been petitions and calls for clemency but in the end he lost his career. Rightly so we think.
The hearing heard that Dr Keilloh was inexperienced when he treat Mr Mousa but he has still paid a high price. Others must now do the same.
Mr Mousa was an innocent man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Arrested at his place of work the soldiers who beat him believed he was involved in the killing of four of their colleagues. He was hooded, handcuffed and beaten so badly that he collapsed after sustaining 93 injuries, including broken ribs. Whilst the medic who treat him failed him miserably what off those who carried out the beating?
Nineteen soldiers took part in the beatings of Mr Mousa and others. According to the mail online, "Seven soldiers from the 1st Battalion, Queen’s Lancashire Regiment, including the battalion’s former commanding officer, Colonel Jorge Mendonca, faced allegations relating to the mistreatment of Mr Mousa and other Iraqi detainees at a court martial in 2006-07. But the £20million trial ended with them all cleared apart from Corporal Donald Payne, who became the first member of the Armed Forces convicted of a war crime when he pleaded guilty to inhumanely treating civilians."
Justice was not served then, yet the Doctor has had the book thrown at him and been made the scapegoat. One former head of the British Army said the incident remained a stain on the British Army. Yes and it will continue to do so if justice is not served.
The next time you read of hate directed at Westerners by people in the Middle East think of this case and the many others. RIP
May 19, 2014 latest - The ICC decision to examine allegations is right and proper. It should also go further and investigate all allegations against western forces.
If not the conclusion is that winning war criminals try losing ones and always escape justice?
Lawyers acting for mistreated Iraqi civilians want independent inquiry