Judges reject call by Iraqi civilians for new torture inquiry

A GROUP of Iraqi civilians yesterday lost their High Court bid for a fresh public inquiry into allegations of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment by British soldiers and interrogators in Iraq.

Two judges upheld Defence Secretary Liam Fox's refusal to order an immediate, wide-ranging investigation into whether there was systemic abuse, as opposed to ill treatment by "a few bad apples".

Over 200 Iraqis complain their ill treatment occurred between March 2003 and December 2008 in British-controlled detention facilities in Iraq in the aftermath of the invasion.

Ali Zaki Mousa, from Basra, the lead claimant, alleges he endured months of beatings and other abuse in the custody of British soldiers in 2006-07.

The MoD has said the allegations of mistreatment remain unproven. The Iraqi applicants now plan to take their case to the Court of Appeal.

Their QC, Michael Fordham, told the High Court investigations by PIL had revealed ill treatment at British bases and detention centres, which he collectively described as "Britain's Abu Ghraib".

Alleged inhumane treatment included keeping Iraqis naked if they did not cooperate with interrogators and various kinds of sexual abuse.

There were also accusations of depriving people of food and water as a means of "softening up" Iraqi people for interrogation, as well as prolonged solitary confinement, sleep deprivation and mock executions.