Thursday, 4 August 2011

On Whose Orders? BBC's Panorama investigates


This was a thirty-minute summary, and predicted outcome of an ongoing legal battle between lawyers defending six survivors of British prisoner camps in Basra in 2004, and the British MOD.

The programme carried out its own investigations over twelve months into the cases, including conducting interviews with several Iraqi prisoners captured by the army on 14 May 2004 and taken back to Camp Abu Naji, and their harrowing stories of sandbaged and handcuffed friends also taken prisoners who where taken alive and later beaten, tortured and killed that night by the British.

Although most of the images being submitted in the legal case were “too graphic” for broadcast, the descriptions include gouged eyes, neck injuries consistent with hanging or wire strangulation and mutilation including penile amputation in a teenager.

Perhaps not surprisingly the programme finds “no proof that prisoners died at the hands of their captors and concludes that the case being brought by solicitors Phil Shiner and Martyn Day represents the most extreme interpretation of a troubling but confusing incident.”

It did at least publicly raise questions about the methods of torture that no-one disputes took place including the so called “five techniques” hooding, stress positions, constant noise, sleep deprivation and being starved of food and water, which where apparently banned in 1972 by the then government of Ted Heath.

There is even an interview with a “nice British Soldier” who was injured in the so called Danny boy checkpoint battle at the time and sat “smoking fags” while a young injured Iraqi boy was dragged along, punched, and kicked, and then had this head repeatedly submerged in a nearby ditch. He survived but is deaf.

“Makes you wonder why we didn’t just shoot him” is the young hero’s’ final thought.

Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General during the time was asked how it was that the ban had been side-stepped, his response was:
"There is no question of anyone in my office, let alone me, advising me that it was legitimate to interrogate whilst hooding or using sleep deprivation or any of those techniques. Full stop."
When asked why it was happening despite this, he said:
"I think the Ministry of Defence are probably the responsible department to understand with the army what actually took place, to learn the lessons from it to make sure it never happens again."

The MOD's response to the program

Dated 20 Feb 08

MOD response to second Panorama letter

Dear Callum

Thank you for your letter of 18 February. There is
little for us to add to our earlier response.

Given the sensitivities and the nature of the allegations
that you make, we must insist upon the following
statements (attributable to an MOD spokesperson) being
used in full in your programme.

On 20 May 2004 the Special Investigation Branch of the Royal Military Police (RMP(SIB)) began an investigation into allegations of mistreatment and mutilation during the incident at Vehicle Checkpoint Danny Boy and, following that incident, at Camp Abu Naji. The investigation lasted 10 months and involved the interviewing of over 150 British Personnel and 50 Iraqi nationals.

The RMP SIB has no factual evidence or complaint regarding a 14-year old boy in connection with the incident, which occurred at or near VCP Danny Boy or at Camp Abu Naji. There is no evidence at this time within the original RMP
(SIB) investigation to support the allegation that a boy was transported back to Abu Naji.

6 of the 9 detainees were sentenced to 5 years’ imprisonment and one was transferred to the juvenile court. At this time the RMP (SIB) are not in possession of any official Iraqi court details pertaining to any challenge to those proceedings.

There is currently no evidence to support claims of alleged mutilation of bodies at or near VCP Danny Boy, or of torture or execution at Camp Abu Naji.

The allegations with regard to Hamid Al Sweady and Haidar Al Lami are part of an ongoing RMP (SIB) investigation and judicial review.

The RMP (SIB) conducted a preliminary review into the allegations contained in the book “Condor Blues”. They found no credible evidence of wrongdoing to justify any further investigation.

The RMP is currently looking into new evidence and hopes to interview those who have made the allegations as soon as possible. Once the interviews
are complete, the RMP will be in a position to decide
whether to reopen their investigation.

MOD Press Office

You see that is how to do it

Commit whatever atrocity because it is war and you are angry

Don’t worry too much about leaving evidence of any sort (images, video footage, mutilated bodies) because there are always reasons why it is inadmissible, un-analysable, or potentially caused by natural causes “like bodies being stamped on because there was no ground to walk on”

Never admit guilt

Allow a thorough and long investigation over several years during which you question hundreds of people

If you have to accept any blame remember the rotten apple (or as one interviewee puts it the apple orchard)

And promise to make sure it never happens again

That is the difference between justice for the “civilized” and “justice” for the uncivilised people

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