Nov 6, 2010
Evidence of the alleged systematic and brutal mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at a secret British military interrogation centre that is being described as “the UK’s Abu Ghraib” emerged yesterday during high court proceedings brought by more than 200 former inmates.
The court was told there was evidence that detainees were starved, deprived of sleep, subjected to sensory deprivation and threatened with execution at the shadowy facilities near Basra operated by the Joint Forces Interrogation Team, or JFIT.
It also received allegations that JFIT’s prisoners were beaten, forced to kneel in stressful positions for up to 30 hours at a time, and that some were subjected to electric shocks. Some of the prisoners say that they were subject to sexual humiliation by women soldiers, while others allege that they were held for days in cells as small as one metre square.
Michael Fordham QC, for the former inmates, said the question needed to be asked: “Is this Britain’s Abu Ghraib?”
The evidence of abuse is emerging weeks after defence officials admitted that British soldiers and airmen are suspected of being responsible for the murder and manslaughter of a number of Iraqi civilians, in addition to the high-profile case of Baha Mousa, the hotel receptionist tortured to death by troops in September 2003. One man is alleged to have been kicked to death aboard an RAF helicopter, while two others died after being held for questioning.