Doctor suspended for being ‘accessory to torture’

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An Iraqi doctor who was an “accessory to torture” in Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime has been suspended for 12 months, a medical tribunal ruled yesterday.

Mohammed Al-Byati carried out medical treatments on camp detainees in Iraq between December 1992 and March 1994, a fitness to practise panel held by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) in Manchester has found.

The panel has heard evidence that the doctor visited camps and prisons and, whilst administering treatment, knew that some prisoners he treated had sustained injuries as a result of torture, and it was likely that the prisoners would be tortured again.

It also heard that as a consequence of Dr Al-Byati’s involvement, he was “complicit in acts of torture”.

After yesterday’s finding that the doctor’s fitness to practise medicine was impaired because of his misconduct in Iraq 20 years ago, the panel yesterday suspended his medical registration for 12 months.

Chair of the panel, Professor Michael Whitehouse said: “Having considered all the evidence placed before it, and the exceptional circumstances in which Dr Al-Byati found himself, the panel is of the view that his misconduct, although serious, was not so serious as to be fundamentally incompatible with his continuing to be a registered medical practitioner.

“In all the circumstances, the panel has determined that it would be both sufficient and proportionate to suspend Dr Al-Byati’s registration for the maximum period of 12 months.

“In deciding on the length of suspension, the panel took into account the need to demonstrate clearly to him, the profession and the public that even though his involvement as an accessory to torture was outside his control such conduct is unacceptable.”

The panel has already accepted the General Medical Council’s (GMC) case that it was neither Dr Al-Byati’s wish nor his intention for some of the people he treated to be tortured further.

Prof Whitehouse said: He added: “It has previously noted that Dr Al-Byati’s actions were a consequence of his completing his compulsory military service in the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.”

Dr Al-Byati, 47, has been working in the UK since January 2000.

He had denied the charges.