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Abuse of Iraqi by British army 'appalling'

Mousa died after being detained by UK forces in Basra in 2003A three year-long investigation into the death of an Iraqi civilian in British army custody has concluded that Baha Mousa died after suffering an "appalling episode of serious gratuitous violence".

Mousa died after being detained by UK forces in Basra in 2003 after suffering 93 individual wounds to his body.

He was arrested by the 1st Batallion, The Queen Lancashire Regiment, along with nine other Iraqis at a Basra hotel where he worked. Mousa then died two days after his arrest.

The 26-year-old was repeatedly kicked and punched over a 36-hour period while being held in a squalid detention block on a British military base in the southern Iraqi city.

Hooded and handcuffed in the fierce heat, the father of two suffered injuries including a broken nose, broken ribs and bruising all over his body, the inquiry found.

William Gage, the chairman of the inquiry, condemned members of the British army batallion involved in the incident and said there was "corporate failure" at the defence ministry over the use of banned interrogation methods.

Gage said senior officers should have done more to prevent Mousa's death and sustained attacks by British troops on the other detainees.

"Sir William Gage's report provides us all with a chronicle of what he himself described as grave and shameful events," Phil Shiner, a lawyer for Mousa's family, said. "This cannot be explained away as being the act of a few rogue soldiers."

"His report provides a detailed analysis of how hooding, stress positions, sleep deprivation, noise disorientation and minimal food and water, ultimately contributed to Baha dying in British custody," he said.

No systematic abuse

While the inquiry criticised individual soldiers for using unlawful methods of interrogation, Gage did not suggest there had been systematic abuse by the British army.

A leaked report last month suggested that the army would be cleared of systematic torture.

"This is a serious and regrettable incident, such an incident should not have happened and should never happen again," Gage said. "It is a stain on the reputation of the army."

He concluded that the death was a result of Mousa's weakened physical state and a struggle with the guards.

Iraqi lawyers will respond to the report, and our correspondent predicts they will say the report did not go far enough.

There is a "clear need to have exposed the wrongs that have been done to the detainees and their families", Gage said.


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