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British troops breached conventions in Iraq, court says

Troops subjected civilians to cruel, inhuman treatment by putting hoods on them and running on their backs, says court

14.12.2017
British troops breached conventions in Iraq, court says FILE PHOTO

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

LONDON

British troops breached the Geneva conventions in Iraq during the 2003 invasion of the country, Britain’s High Court ruled Thursday.

The troops subjected civilians to cruel and inhuman treatment, according to the court, by putting hoods on them and running on their backs.

The court also said in its ruling that while detaining Iraqi civilians following the invasion, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) breached the conventions and the 1998 Human Rights Act.

The high court’s ruling followed a decision 10 days ago from the International Criminal Court (ICC) saying there was “a reasonable basis” to conclude that British troops committed war crimes in Iraq.

The verdict by the High Court followed two trials in which four Iraqis said they had been subjected to unlawful detention and abuse by British soldiers.

“None of the claimants was engaged in terrorist activity or posed any threat to the security of Iraq,” Mr. Justice Leggatt said.

Leggatt said British troops had run over the backs of a number of detainees and the assaults “involved the gratuitous infliction of pain and humiliation for the amusement of those who perpetrated them.”

He said they constituted inhuman and degrading treatment and were “a clear breach of the Geneva conventions.”

Under the verdict, the four Iraqi civilians will be given £85,000 in damages.

The civilians’ claims are seen as model for dealing with 628 similar cases. In 2016, 331 claims were settled without any court proceedings, and the MoD paid out £22 million ($29.5 million) to claimants.

"There is no assumption that these four cases are representative of others, but the conclusions reached on the legal issues and some of the factual issues raised are likely to affect many of the remaining cases in the litigation," Leggatt said.

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