Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Words cannot express my... my... hmmm

I think it's fair to say that words cannot express the rage I feel over this ruling. Baha Mousa, 26, died whilst under arrest and under the questioning of six British soldiers. His body was found to have 93 separate injuries. The military court cleared five of them of all charges. The only soldier deemed to be at fault was the one who submitted a guilty plea to inhumane treatment of a prisoner.

As the Independent said (here) "The case... led to the disclosure that the Army high command had sanctioned brutal abuse of prisoners."

"The court martial heard that the detainees were beaten with bars, kicked, starved and forced to drink their own urine. They were kept hooded with hessian sacks in temperatures of 60C, made to maintain a stress position for hours and deprived of sleep. After 36 hours Baha Musa died, with 93 injuries to his body."

The Guardian notes that "Phil Shiner, the lawyer representing the family of Baha Mousa... said: "Mr Justice McKinnon found that the evidence was clear that these injuries were 'sustained as a result of numerous assaults over 36 hours by unidentified persons'. He said 'none of those soldiers has been charged with any offence simply because there is no evidence against them as a result of a more or less obvious closing of ranks'. It was in the words of one soldier witness a 'free for all'. It appears to be nothing less than systematic punishment on behalf of 1 QLR in the mistaken belief that these Iraqis were responsible for the death of one of the battalion."

No one gives evidence = innocence? The rules say we can beat a man to death with impunity so that makes it okay? I really don't think so...


Anonymous said...

It would be wrong to suggest that no-one has been found guilty. One soldier pleaded guilty and will be punished. The problem is that these particular soldiers have not been found guilty and you can only punish soldiers that have been tried, otherwise it becomes a show trial. I get the impression that you all want someone punished and you dont care who.

Jim Jay said...

I said in the post that a soldier had pleaded guilty to one charge - i bet he feels a fool for doing that.

I'm condemning the wall of silence around the murder of a man against whom there is no evidence was an enemy combatant and the fact that during the trial it emerged that torture techniques were used in a common place way.

The judge was under no doubt that UK soldiers had murdered this man in a gruesome and brutal way but felt unable to convict any specific person because of a wall of silence.

It's perfectly reasonable for me to be angry that six soldiers who were put in charge of a prisoner who then died of the 93 wounds they inficted upon him should go without even a reprimand purely on the basis of a refusal on the part of them and their fellow soldiers to give proper evidence.

A murder took place - the court does not deny this - it's just unable to ascertain who of the six should be held accountable... that makes me angry.

Earthpal said...

Absolutely Jim Jay.

It is actually quite scary that the soldiers can so easily get away with such brutality...just because they closed rank and believed they had the moral superiority because one of their colleagues was killed.

This was not an act of self-defence. The soldiers were not in danger from Mr. Mousa. He was in their custody for god's sake! It was a brutal killing and people should be held accountable.

And it's all the more heartbreaking to know that Mr. Mousa's wife died from cancer just months before this incident. So that little boy in the picture is an orphan.