British `Soldier C' elaborates on Iraq prisoner abuse


Sun, May 16, 2004 - Page 1

Damaging allegations that British troops beat Iraqi prisoners "for fun" were aired on television on Friday, just hours after a newspaper editor was removed for publishing fake photographs of similar abuse.

A soldier told a prime-time current affairs show that he repeatedly saw prisoners hooded, restrained physically and beaten for long periods.

"They were beaten for fun," the man, identified only as "Soldier C" and shown only in shadow, told ITV's Tonight with Trevor McDonald program.

"I saw prisoners being punched, slapped, kicked, pushed around. Sand bagged, zip-tied," he said,

"I saw them in those sand bags for hours and hours on end. And then water would be poured over them. I know that some of them had trouble breathing."

Some prisoners were often "beyond" screaming or crying out, he added.

The soldier was identified as being a member of the Territorial Army part-time reserve force, who while serving in Iraq was attached to the Queen's Lancashire Regiment.

The same regiment was identified as being behind alleged abuses shown in pictures published in the tabloid Daily Mirror on May 1, photos backed up by testimony from troops including Soldier C.

The pictures, which showed what were identified as British troops apparently beating and urinating on a detainee, were rejected as fake by the British Ministry of Defence on Thursday.

On Friday evening, the Trinity Mirror group, which publishes the newspaper, said editor Piers Morgan was "stepping down" with immediate effect, apologizing to the regiment and saying it had been "the subject of a calculated and malicious hoax."

A former commanding officer of the regiment, Colonel David Black, later voiced "quiet satisfaction" at the news.

However, Soldier C said that abuse, while not systematic, had been taking place frequently.

"I knew that it was going on for long periods of time, and seeing the state of the guys that were in captivity, you knew that it was getting to a dangerous level," he said, blaming a lack of supervision by senior officers and top military command.

"I'm sure at the top level, you know, they don't condone all these sorts of acts. I believe that.

"But when it gets down to the lower levels, it's hard to control," he said.

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