Al-Sweady inquiry told teen ‘hanged’ by British troops

Mizal Karim Al-Sweady was present at the inquiry. Picture: PA
Mizal Karim Al-Sweady was present at the inquiry. Picture: PA
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A TEENAGER who it is claimed was unlawfully killed by British troops in Iraq had been tortured and hanged, his uncle has said.

Khudur Al-Swaiedi said he was present when body bags handed back by British forces were taken to hospital and opened, describing the scene as an “inhuman catastrophe”.

Mr Al-Swaiedi, 48, is giving evidence to the Al-Sweady Public Inquiry, which is examining claims that UK soldiers killed detainees after the “Battle of Danny Boy” in Iraq 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 detainees were ill-treated there and at Shaibah Logistics Base.

The claims are denied by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), which says those who died were killed on the battlefield.

Mr Al-Swaiedi, said he washed the body of 19-year-old Hamid after it had been handed back by British forces.

In the first of two witness statements, made in July 2010, and released yesterday as he appeared at the inquiry, he said he found signs of torture on the teenager, including a boot-shaped bruise on his forehead, as well as a broken arm and bullet wounds. There were also signs he had been hanged.

The 48-year-old said discrepancies between various statements he had made, and between his evidence and that of other witnesses, was due to mistakes and some had been caused by translation in the past.

He said: “We saw ambulances. British army ambulances, from a distance. Things were being handed over. It turned out that those were body bags.”

They travelled to the Al-Sadr Hospital, where the bodies were taken, and he witnessed an “inhuman catastrophe” as the bags were opened. In his statement he said injuries to the bodies not only included bullet wounds, but also missing eyes and, in one case, missing genitals.

In his July 2010 statement, the 48-year-old said his nephew’s injuries included bullet holes, “signs of torture on his chest”, as well as “bruises by a boot to his forehead”. He said one of his arms was broken and there was a “hole in his neck”.

“I would say the primary cause of death was hanging and torture,” his statement said.

The inquiry heard Hamid’s death certificate mentioned torture, but nothing about hanging.

The inquiry has heard that insurgents ambushed the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders near the Danny Boy checkpoint on 14 May 2004.

Counsel to the inquiry Jonathan Acton Davis QC said enemy dead would normally have been left on the battlefield, but 20 Iraqi bodies were taken to CAN, along with nine detainees.

It is alleged that not all 20 died on the battlefield, and at least one was killed by a British soldier after he had been returned alive to CAN. Counsel for the MoD rejects the claims, saying there is a “complete lack of credibility and reliability”.

Hamid Al-Sweady’s father, Mizal Karim, told the inquiry his son’s injuries included marks around his neck that appeared as if he had been electrocuted.