Iraqi claims bodies were mutilated
Published 18/03/2013 | 14:01
The father of an Iraqi teenager allegedly murdered while he was detained by British troops during the Iraq War has described seeing bodies returned with "eyes plucked out" and noses missing.
Mizal Karim Al-Sweady told the Al-Sweady Inquiry that injuries suffered by his son Hamid, 19, appeared to include signs of torture. But Mr Al-Sweady, who has travelled to the UK to give evidence, changed some of his claims. The inquiry, sitting in central London, also heard there were discrepancies between statements Mr Al-Sweady gave to Iraqi Police, the Royal Military Police and the inquiry itself.
The inquiry is looking into claims that UK soldiers mistreated and killed Iraqis after the "Battle of Danny Boy" in May 2004. It is alleged that Iraqis were unlawfully killed at Camp Abu Naji (CAN) near Majar-al-Kabir on May 14 and 15, 2004, and five detainees were tortured and ill-treated both there and at Shaibah Logistics Base, where they were held for the next four months.
The claims are vigorously denied by the Ministry of Defence, which says those who died were killed on the battlefield.
Hamid Al-Sweady, whom the inquiry is named after, is said to be one of the detainees who was killed. His father - the first of 15 witnesses travelling to the UK for the inquiry - began his evidence by showing inquiry chairman Sir Thayne Forbes a picture of his son.
Mr Al-Sweady said on the day of the battle, his son went into fields to study for a physics exam at about 3.30pm. When he did not come home, he became "frantic" with worry, he claimed. Giving evidence through an interpreter, he told the inquiry he spent several hours searching farmland by torchlight.
The following day, bodies of a number of Iraqis were released from CAN by British forces, moved into Iraqi ambulances and taken to hospital. Mr Al-Sweady told the inquiry he searched through the body bags to find his son. He said he saw Hamid's injuries at hospital, adding: "We had to wash the body of the deceased and at that time I saw the injuries with my own eye."
In his statement to the inquiry, Mr Al-Sweady said his son's jaw was dislocated, but his eyes were intact. He had a bullet wound in the middle of his neck and marks around his neck resembling a necklace, with the skin apparently burnt, as if he had been electrocuted with electric wire, his statement said. It said his son's right arm was completely fractured, his chest had "blueness" and bruises over it, and he had been shot in the right foot. He also described a variety of injuries allegedly sustained by more than 20 Iraqis.
But Mr Al-Sweady's RMP statement about his son did not mention a fractured jaw, marks to his neck or blueness to the face and chest, while Hamid's death certificate did not document marking to the neck or blueness on his chest, the inquiry heard. It also heard that his earlier statements to Iraqi Police and the RMP did not mention apparent mutilation of other bodies.
When asked why, Mr Al-Sweady said: "I did mention this to the British police and to the Iraqi police. I talked about eyes being plucked as well." Mr Al-Sweady denied that his son was a member of Iraq's Shia militia the Mahdi Army, or a supporter of its leader Moqtada Al-Sadr.