Mon, Dec 22, 2003 - Page 6 News List

New report reveals Britons tortured by Saudi jailers


British men imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for bombings they did not commit were repeatedly beaten with "blunt instruments," according to a new report offering the first irrefutable evidence they were tortured.

Independent experts have proved that the men were beaten -- probably with axe handles and metal bars -- into confessing. Their findings will now provide the central plank of legal action against the Saudi authorities.

The men are increasingly confident of securing massive compensation from the kingdom, the UK's chief Middle Eastern ally.

Saudi officials have denied the men were tortured while jailed on trumped-up charges of orchestrating a bombing campaign against fellow Westerners.

Analysis of four of the cases found the Britons were hit systematically with heavy objects on the soles of their feet while under interrogation by the Saudi authorities.

Ultrasound scans conducted at the Parker Institute in Denmark, a world-renowned center of excellence in the diagnosis of torture victims, found uneven scarring under the skin of the men's feet -- "unequivocal" proof, according to experts, that they were tortured.

The Saudi authorities claimed that the bombings, which killed British engineer Christopher Rodway, were part of a turf war against expatriate bootleggers.

Scot Sandy Mitchell,who was sentenced to be executed, was the first of the seven Britons and one Canadian to have the analysis confirming they were tortured.

Soren Tor-Pedersen, the institute's head of rheumatological ultrasound said: "The results are totally convincing. We found evidence only seen in torture victims. The findings have strength because they show different results on their feet and yet we are symmetrically built."

Mitchell, from Kirkintilloch, near Glasgow, said: "Even my psychiatrist said I displayed similar symptoms of torture victims from Iran and Iraq."

James Cottle, who lost so much weight from his 18-stone frame that skin was said to be hanging off him upon his return to the UK, said the men were increasingly confident following the tests.

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