U.K. Soldiers Shouldering Blame

September 26th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: U.K. Soldiers Shouldering Blame

Media: The Associated Press
Date: 26 September 2006

LONDON - Three British soldiers accused of abusing Iraqi detainees are
unfairly shouldering the blame while senior officers face lesser charges, a
defense lawyer said in a landmark war crimes trial Monday.

Prosecutors previously told the trial that soldiers deprived the detainees
of sleep and poured urine into the mouth of the youngest, a 17-year-old. The
detainees were also allegedly forced to maintain painful positions for
extended periods of time with their thighs parallel to the floor and knees
bent at a 90-degree angle.

Eight of the former detainees, who were released without charge, are
expected to testify at the trial from Tuesday.

Corporal Donald Payne, 35, became the first British soldier to plead guilty
to a war crime last week when he admitted the charge of inhumanely treating
detainees in the southern city of Basra after they were caught in 2003.

Payne pleaded innocent to manslaughter in the death of detainee Baha Mousa,
whose autopsy revealed 93 injuries.

Two other soldiers _ Lance Corp. Wayne Ashley Crowcroft, 22, and Private
Darren Trevor Fallon, 23, _ pleaded innocent to the charge of inhumanely
treating detainees.

Three senior soldiers _ Col. Jorge Emmanuel Mendonca, 42, Maj. Michael Edwin
Peebles, 35, and Warrant Officer Mark Lester Davies, 37 _ are charged with
neglecting their duty by failing to stop mistreatment of detainees. All
three have pleaded innocent.

"You may think that there is something deeply unattractive, deeply unfair
about a prosecution which applies one set of rules to the junior ranks ...
and a different set to those higher up the chain of command," Payne's
lawyer, Tim Owen, told the jury of seven senior officers.

Soldiers detained the group of Iraqis after finding rifles, ammunition,
grenades and timers that they believed were to be used for bomb-making
equipment. They also found forged identity documents and large amounts of
money during raids on hotels that were believed to be bases for insurgents.

Prosecutors allege that visitors to the three-room detention facility were
invited to watch the hooded detainees as they were kicked and punched during
a 36-hour period, their shrieks and groans providing what the soldiers
nicknamed the "choir."

Payne's lawyer Owen acknowledged that the choir became a "sick joke" among
some of the soldiers.

Timothy Langdale, a lawyer for Mendonca, 42, the highest ranking officer in
the trial, said troops faced a constant threat of attack while trying to
stabilize the region. They were asked to do far more than they ever planned
and had a distinct lack of support, he said.

"The situation in Basra was extremely complex, confused and dangerous,"
Langdale said.

Mendonca was involved in multiple tasks running the battalion and felt
confident that he had allocated the duties of handling the detainees to
other soldiers, he said.

Owen alleged the practice of hooding detainees, combined with sleep
deprivation and painful stress positions, was standard procedure and
approved of by superior officers.

Owen said that Payne now accepts that he used force _ kicks, punches, slaps
_ and said he denied the charges in earlier interviews with investigators
because he felt he was being unfairly singled out.
September 26th, 2006  
Owens allegations that the methods used to interrogate prisoners were approved by Senior Officers, this I would strongly disagree with. There had been similar practises before while dealing with the IRA, and the Government of the day had come down hard on those that did this sort of thing and forbidden any further use of these tactics.

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