The 1,400 page final report on the inquiry into the death of Baha Mousa has been published today after three years of hearings. The chairman of the inquiry, retired Court of Appeal judge Sir William Gage, has condemned members of the 1st Battalion The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment for their “lack of moral courage” to report abuse and the use of banned interrogation after Mousa died of 93 injuries in British army custody in Basra in 2003.
Mousa was arrested with nine other Iraqi men after 1QLR soldiers found weapons, fake ID cards and military clothing at the hotel where he was working as a receptionist.
The inquiry concluded that his death was caused by a combination of his weakened physical state and a final struggle with his guards. It also found that interrogation techniques were used against Mousa and the other detainees that were unlawful by reason of the Geneva Convention, including hooding, which had been specifically ordered by a senior officer in Basra. They also suffered other interrogation techniques specifically outlawed by the British Government in 1972, including sleep deprivation, being denied food and drink, being subjected to white noise and being made to stand in painful ”stress positions”.
Sir William Gage condemned the absence of any “proper MoD doctrine on interrogation”. Although the unit’s senior commander has been acquitted of having any knowledge of the beatings, the chairman said that he ought to have appreciated the dangers of “conditioning”. The commander of the unit responsible for guarding the prisoners is singled out for having committed “very serious breach of duty” for failing to report the treatment of the detainees.
The report finds a situation of “corporate failure” by the MoD to adopt a proper and consistent doctrine for the permissible interrogation and treatment of prisoners of war. Gage summed up his findings thus:
My judgment is that they constituted an appalling episode of serious, gratuitous violence on civilians which resulted in the death of one man and injuries to others. They represent a very serious breach of discipline by a number of members of 1QLR
The Crown Prosecution Service is studying the report to determine whether to take action against any of the individuals involved.
Neil Garnham QC, David Evans, Matthew Donmall, Isabel McArdle, Adam Wagner, Caroline Cross and Kate Beattie of 1 Crown Office Row represented soldier witnesses in the inquiry
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