Al-Sweady inquiry told of detainee’s torture fears
AN IRAQI detained by British troops yesterday claimed he was beaten, threatened and left fearing he would be tortured and executed.
Mahdi Jassim Abdullah al-Behadili told the Al-Sweady Inquiry he was hit, threatened with a metal tent pole, humiliated and deprived of sleep when detained in May 2004.
The 26-year-old thought British troops were “out to kill us” and feared he would be executed, he told the inquiry in London, examining claims that UK soldiers mistreated and killed detainees after the “Battle of Danny Boy”.
It is alleged Iraqis were unlawfully killed at Camp Abu Naji on 14 and 15 May, 2004, and detainees were ill-treated there and at the Shaibah logistics base, where they were held for four months.
The Ministry of Defence denies the claims.
Giving evidence on the tenth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, Mr al-Behadili said he was detained by two soldiers as he irrigated fields on 14 May, 2004. They approached him, one from the front and the other from behind after he heard gunfire. Through an interpreter, he said: “The one in front was black. He hit me and broke my nose.”
He lost consciousness, he said, and woke up handcuffed, blindfolded and face-down on the ground. He said the soldiers walked and dragged him to the road. He said he and other Iraqis were thrown into an armoured vehicle and taken to Camp Abu Naji (Can). “I was removed. Violently, I was dragged out. After they walked me around, they hit my head on the wall. After I was hit … I was unconscious.”
He was kept in a cell and made to sit on a chair, he said, in between being interrogated twice in a separate tent. He said he was slapped, adding: “I felt they were out to kill us.” During one interrogation, he said he was kept naked. The second time, he was threatened with a tent pole.
Mr al-Behadili was given water but not allowed to go to the toilet and was hit if he tried to sleep. He said he heard three or four gunshots, adding: “I was in fear of being executed”.
The next morning, Mr al-Behadili and other Iraqis were taken by helicopter to Shaibah, he said, and were again beaten. In Shaibah, he was given a uniform and taken into a “big hall”.
He said: “They made me sit on the ground with my face towards the wall. They took one after the other away and it was my feeling that they were taking those for torture. I was afraid.”
He shared a cell with four other Iraqis but was not allowed to sleep. After a week, he was moved to a bigger cell with 15-16 Iraqis.
He said a picture of him shown to the inquiry, face-down with three other Iraqis in a ditch, did not appear to be where he was arrested. He said he was alone when detained.
The inquiry was adjourned.
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