A statement will be made on the steps of the Royal Courts of Justice at 9:45am Monday 18 July 2011
The Court of Appeal will on Monday 18th July 2011 commence a three-day hearing to consider the lawfulness of the refusal by Liam Fox, Secretary of State for Defence, to hold a public inquiry into allegations of torture and inhumane treatment of Iraqis by British forces.
The claim, in which the court will consider allegations made by 142 Iraqis, is headed by Ali Zaki Mousa who was detained by British forces between 24 November 2006 and December 2007. He was held at British detention and interrogation facilities at Basra Airport and Shaibah Logistics Base. He was held in solitary confinement for 12 days, stripped naked, deprived of sleep, held in stress positions, beaten and suffered a broken jaw, threatened with rape, and subjected to such lengthy interrogations that he collapsed.
Liam Fox accepts that a public inquiry may be necessary but that a decision on any such inquiry ought to await the outcome of criminal investigations by the Royal Military Police in the “Iraq Historic Allegations Team.” The cases of three interrogators have already been referred to the Director of Service Prosecutions on charges of war crimes.
The Claimants argue that an investigation by soldiers in the Royal Military Police into allegations of widespread abuse in British detention facilities cannot possibly be said to be independent. An independent investigation, such as a public inquiry, is required by law. Moreover, the allegations by the 142 Iraqis paint a strikingly similar pattern of abuse. There are crucial questions of why such abuse occurred, who ordered it, and what lessons need to be learned. Those questions are apt for a public inquiry.
Phil Shiner, solicitor, of Public Interest Lawyers said today:
I’m not surprised that the MoD wants to put off holding a public inquiry in an attempt to kick all of this into the long grass. But abuse by British interrogators in Iraq was serious and systemic and in clear violation of the law. It raises troubling questions that must be promptly answered by a public inquiry.
Sam Jacobs of Public Interest Lawyers:
Asking soldiers in the RMP to investigate soldiers suspected of abuse is the response of a government happy to hide what happened in British interrogation facilities. It is no comfort to the Iraqi victims who suffered terribly and now seek, and deserve, an independent public inquiry.