Wed, Sep 16, 2009 - Page 6 News List

British military police investigate Iraqi rape claim

THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

The Royal Military police have launched a criminal investigation into allegations that British soldiers raped and mutilated an Iraqi civilian, the Guardian has learned.

Lawyers for the alleged victim are planning to sue. The government has ordered an investigation, but is refusing to hold an independent inquiry into the incident, which is alleged to have happened in May 2003.

Next week, lawyers for the man will issue legal proceedings against the government in the British civil courts.

The man was working for the British army as a laborer at Camp Breadbasket in Basra, the scene of other abuse allegations. He was caught up in a raid aimed at catching people stealing supplies.

He alleges that two soldiers raped him, subjecting him to a 15-minute ordeal, then slashed his arms and body with a knife. He was treated in hospital for the cuts and the Royal Military police are understood to have secured the medical records. The victim was 18 at the time and said he was so traumatized he tried to kill himself.

The man, who does not want his real name to be known, said in his witness statement he was attacked after accidentally entering a room where two male soldiers were engaged in a sexual act. He says one soldier pulled him in the room and punched him in the face, while another blocked the exit.

Daniel Carey, solicitor for the Iraqi man, says witnesses confirm the victim was taken into a room by British soldiers, only to return looking distressed.

The British government, in letters seen by the Guardian, is trying to have the legal case struck out because the Iraqi waited six years to make his claim.

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