Al-Sweady inquiry: father tells of torture signs
The father of an Iraqi teenager allegedly murdered while he was detained by British troops during the Iraq War today described seeing bodies returned with “eyes plucked out” and noses missing.
Mizal Karim Al-Sweady told the Al-Sweady Inquiry that injuries suffered by his son Hamid, 19, appeared to include signs of torture.
But Mr Al-Sweady, who has travelled to the UK to give evidence, changed some of his claims, including saying he saw just one body with eyes missing and one with a broken nose.
The inquiry, sitting in central London, also heard there were discrepancies between statements Mr Al-Sweady gave to Iraqi Police, the Royal Military Police (RMP) and the inquiry itself.
The inquiry is looking into claims that UK soldiers mistreated and killed Iraqis after the “Battle of Danny Boy” in May 2004.
It is alleged that Iraqis were unlawfully killed at Camp Abu Naji (CAN) near Majar-al-Kabir on 14 and 15 May 2004, and five detainees were tortured and ill-treated both there and at Shaibah Logistics Base, where they were held for the next four months.
The claims are vigorously denied by the Ministry of Defence which says those who died were killed on the battlefield.
Hamid Al-Sweady, whom the inquiry is named after, is said to be one of the detainees who was killed.
His father - the first of 15 witnesses travelling to the UK for the inquiry - began his evidence today by showing inquiry chairman Sir Thayne Forbes a picture of his son.
Mr Al-Sweady said on the day of the battle, his son went into fields to study for a physics exam at about 3.30pm.
When he did not come home, he became “frantic” with worry, he claimed.
Giving evidence through an interpreter, he told the inquiry he spent several hours searching farmland by torchlight.
The following day, bodies of a number of Iraqis were released from CAN by British forces, moved into Iraqi ambulances and taken to hospital.
Mr Al-Sweady told the inquiry he searched through the body bags to find his son.
“I was searching my hands through the bodies. I saw him with my eyes,” he said.
At hospital, he saw Hamid’s injuries, he said: “We had to wash the body of the deceased and at that time I saw the injuries with my own eye.”
In his statement to the inquiry, Mr Al-Sweady said his son’s jaw was dislocated, but his eyes were intact.
He had a bullet wound in the middle of his neck and marks around his neck resembling a necklace, with the skin apparently burnt, as if he had been electrocuted with electric wire, his statement said.
It said his son’s right arm was completely fractured, his chest had “blueness” and bruises over it, and he had been shot in the right foot.
He also described a variety of injuries allegedly sustained by more than 20 Iraqis.
“I saw a combination of injuries such as: eyes missing, tongues cut out, noses cut off, teeth removed, bodies had been distorted and mutilated and covered in blood,” his statement said.
But Mr Al-Sweady’s RMP statement about his son did not mention a fractured jaw, marks to his neck or blueness to the face and chest, while Hamid’s death certificate did not document marking to the neck or blueness on his chest, the inquiry heard.
It also heard that his earlier statements to Iraqi Police and the RMP did not mention apparent mutilation of other bodies.
When asked why, Mr Al-Sweady said: “I did mention this to the British police and to the Iraqi police. I talked about eyes being plucked as well.”
He admitted he had not opened 28 body bags and said he could not remember how many bodies he had seen.
Counsel to the inquiry Jonathan Acton Davis QC told him: “The inquiry has been unable to find any other evidence which suggests that tongues were cut out or noses cut off. Are you sure you saw that Mr Al-Sweady?”
“Yes I am sure I saw eyes plucked out and noses broken,” he replied.
But he conceded he had seen just two bodies with the eye and nose injuries: “One had a nose broken and the other had eyes plucked out.”
The inquiry heard there were a number of other discrepancies between Mr Al-Sweady’s statement to Iraqi police in June 2004, to the RMP in December that year, and to the inquiry in July 2010.
They included whether he heard helicopters and gunfire from the battle, and information about his own movements on May 14 and 15, 2004.
Mr Al-Sweady denied that his son was a member of Iraq’s Shia militia the Mahdi Army, or a supporter of its leader Moqtada Al-Sadr.
Neil Garnham QC, representing hundreds of soldiers involved in the case, said two statements from Mr Al-Sweady and from his wife to Iraqi police were “almost identical words, including the fact that you are described as a housewife, and the female pronoun ‘she’ is used to describe what you say.”
“You have been asked by Mr Acton Davis about a number of discrepancies in the evidence you have given to this inquiry, to the Iraqi police and to the Royal Military Police,” Mr Garnham said.
“Mr Al-Sweady, might the explanation for the discrepancies that Mr Acton Davis has pointed out be that you have been untruthful in some or all of the accounts that you have given?”
Mr Al-Sweady said: “There should be no differences between them, I was on oath and I said what I believed was the truth and I don’t take what others are saying as true.”
Medical assistant Assad Mozan, who was working at the hospital in Majar-al-Kabir that day, saw Iraqis detained by British forces.
But the inquiry heard his description of how many there were appeared to change in different statements - in one he claimed to have seen around 15, handcuffed and their heads covered with clothing, while in another he said he saw 30 to 35.
Asked what his recollection was today, Mr Mozan said there were more than 15 men detained, and admitted recognising three, including Hamid Al-Sweady.
Asked why he had not mentioned recognising some of the detainees in a BBC interview in 2005, he said he was nervous as British forces were still occupying Iraq.
But Mr Acton Davis suggested other comments where he condemned the state of the bodies handed over suggested he was not nervous.
“What we found was something, to be honest, it was disgraceful, the condition of the bodies,” the inquiry heard Mr Mozan had said.
“It was disgusting that we got the martyrs in this way.”
He told the inquiry today: “I was not nervous per se. However the way the corpses, the bodies, were delivered to us did not show any respect of humanity or any respect towards the dead.”
Other discrepancies were raised with Mr Mozan during his evidence, including when and why the ambulance was sent to the scene and whether he knew if anybody had been shooting at British troops.
The inquiry, at Finlaison House in central London, was adjourned to 10am tomorrow when Mr Mozan will continue to give evidence.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west