British Soldier Pleads Guilty in Iraq Abuse Case

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#1
A report from the early stages of the Osnabruck court martial. Confirmation that this one soldier has formally pleaded guilty to a single charge is not exactly 'new news': I understood he was always going to plead guilty to that charge, and (according to his brief) faced up to his involvement from the start of the investigation.
"British Soldier Guilty in Iraq Abuse Case"

1 hour, 18 minutes ago Europe - AP

OSNABRUECK, Germany - A British soldier pleaded guilty Tuesday to beating an Iraqi captive, but he and two others pleaded not guilty to all other charges as their court-martial opened on allegations they mistreated detainees.

Photos of alleged mistreatment published in a British newspaper in spring 2003 led to investigations against the three men, and this is the first case of alleged abuse of Iraqis by British soldiers to go to trial.

The defendants, all from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, showed little emotion as they entered their pleas at a British base in Germany, answering Judge Michael Hunter only with "guilty" or "not guilty."

Lance Cpl. Darren Larkin, 30, pleaded guilty to battery for assaulting and beating an Iraqi in his custody. But he pleaded not guilty to indecent conduct for allegedly forcing two Iraqi detainees to undress in front of others.

He decided to admit to the battery charge because he knew what he did was wrong, his attorney, William England, told the court.

"He is ashamed of his unacceptable and mindless act ... and that he has brought shame to his proud regiment, himself and his family," England said.
Cpl. Daniel Kenyon, 33, and Lance Cpl. Mark Cooley, 25, pleaded not guilty to all charges.

It was the first time the charges were officially announced, and it was not immediately clear what possible punishments the soldiers face.

The abuse allegedly happened in May 2003 while the three soldiers were stationed at a food warehouse compound outside Basra in southern Iraq (news - web sites), according to British media reports....
full story at http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tm...050118/ap_on_re_eu/germany_britain_iraq_abuse
 
#2
Anyone who commits a crime and then puts the photos into Boots (or wherever it was) to be developed should be charged with gross stupidity! Other than that they deserve everything that they get!
 
#3
OK, if no one else will I am posting this for information, otherwise our american and other visitors might wrongly think it is head in the sand time. Please bear in mind its about a case still in progress. This is not the time IMO for any kind of frenzy, or helpful anecdotes from anyone who may or may not be 'in the know'.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4184279.stm
 
#4
Stepping delicately around the issues of the courts-martial, there are some other issues that may be of curiosity.

1. Was it not incredibly stupid to delay the inevitable publication of the photographs? If they had been aired at the time of the Abu Ghraib photos, their impact would have been less damaging and the dust would have settled (as much as it ever will) by now.

2. Will there have been, or are there likely to be any discussions between the US and UK on sentence tariffs to avoid damaging publicity along the lines of "the US/Brits got off more lightly than the Brits/US"?
 
#5
IMHO, and knowing little about the subject, but with ref to your second point MrPVRd I think it would be almost totally infeasible to reach any sort of equal standard on this issue.
It appears to me that the AG incidents were investigated more due to international uproar than American desire. However the current process seems to have a more "in house" motivation. If this is the case, to whatever extent, it would indicate a basic difference between the two countries approaches to this sort of situation and would exclude any possible correlation.

This may be an unfair representation of the situation but to an (almost) casual observer it is the initial reaction.
 
#6
MrPVRd said:
Stepping delicately around the issues of the courts-martial, there are some other issues that may be of curiosity.

1. Was it not incredibly stupid to delay the inevitable publication of the photographs? If they had been aired at the time of the Abu Ghraib photos, their impact would have been less damaging and the dust would have settled (as much as it ever will) by now.
Much comment on the evening tv etc of the terrible nature of the photographs. Whilst it was said that some were too bad to show, the ones that were shown seem incredibly tame. There is a - probably - posed punch. The man said to be hanging from fork life is laying on the prongs and the guys with sticks are just that - guys with sticks. No sign of any beating. Their publication just in advance of Iraq elections may be poor tactics - maybe that is why we also have such spin on another loud mouthed Muslim cleric being considered by CPS
 
#7
POD has just been on the TV news issuing an apology on behalf of the Army.

Is there no end to the PR machine ??

Can't say I agree with POD doing this - after all, it was some squaddies getting out of hand and they are being dealt with by the system.

Why bring attention to it with POD wringing his hands for the Late news??
 
#8
Hootch said:
POD has just been on the TV news issuing an apology on behalf of the Army.

Is there no end to the PR machine ??

Can't say I agree with POD doing this - after all, it was some squaddies getting out of hand and they are being dealt with by the system.

Why bring attention to it with POD wringing his hands for the Late news??
Perhaps his recent gong has not come cheaply. On the other hand, perhaps he feels he can serve the Army as a whole better by being in the job than out of it.
 
#10
Er, isn't POD's apology rather compromising the trials? Whatever happened to presumption of innocence, etc? Or are we now firmly in the era of politically expedient show trials...?


p.s. Have to agree that the photos released so far are stunningly unhorrific.... they look mild compared to some mess dinner nights I can recall...
 
#11
As others have pointed out, the timing of the court martial and consequent release of the photographs seems, errr... unfortunate given the Iraq elections. Particularly as the court martial is reportedly likely to last three to four weeks, so no "closure" (hate that word!) before the vote.

I have no problems with POD's carefully worded statement, highly unusual as it is when a court martial is in progress.

Agree it would have been much better from a 'UK PLC' perspective if the photographs could have been released earlier.

Suppose we can take some comfort from the fact that the photographs were never leaked.

I thought BBC Radio 4's coverage this evening was scrupulously fair and informative. I dont imagine all the media will follow their example. Contempt of Court Act 1981, so google informs me. Nice to imagine certain journos with steel helmets on, doing area cleaning around the guardroom at Osnabruck.
 
#12
4(T) said:
Er, isn't POD's apology rather compromising the trials? Whatever happened to presumption of innocence, etc? Or are we now firmly in the era of politically expedient show trials...?

2 things occur to me - 1). POD's comments seems to compromise even more any sentence passed - the sentence seems inevitable - more so than a 1 year sentence for murder for a certain American serviceman ...

2). I am interested in the report that as POD made great play of an 'independent' investigation by Service Police and APA 'they' have apparently stated that the OC(?)'s order was 'illegal' - seemingly no mention of that by POD .... but then Lance Jacks and full screws are easy to find and easy to replace - those out of Shrivenham less so ...
 
#13
martial said:
4(T) said:
Er, isn't POD's apology rather compromising the trials? Whatever happened to presumption of innocence, etc? Or are we now firmly in the era of politically expedient show trials...?

2 things occur to me - 1). POD's comments seems to compromise even more any sentence passed - the sentence seems inevitable - more so than a 1 year sentence for murder for a certain American serviceman ...

2). I am interested in the report that as POD made great play of an 'independent' investigation by Service Police and APA 'they' have apparently stated that the OC(?)'s order was 'illegal' - seemingly no mention of that by POD .... but then Lance Jacks and full screws are easy to find and easy to replace - those out of Shrivenham less so ...
I had missed that about the OC's "illegal" order. Having now checked it out, it's interesting that our system (at least the prosecutor) treats the Geneva Convention as applicable, whereas another nation regards it as irrelevant in the circumstances. If the OC did give an illegal order, of course he should be dealt with too. The obvious problem is that there was no judicial system in place at the time to deal with minor criminals, such as looters.
 
#14
From The Telegraph....

British troops abused and sexually humiliated Iraqi prisoners in a series of "shocking and appalling" incidents after the Iraq war, a court martial heard yesterday.


One or more soldiers from 1 Bn, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, forced two captured Iraqi looters to strip naked and simulate sexual acts, the hearing in Germany was told.

Another soldier, L/Cpl Mark Cooley, 25, trussed up an Iraqi man in cargo netting and dangled him from the tines of a fork-lift truck which he then drove about.

Cooley also simulated kicking and punching an Iraqi in order to pose for a photograph he could show friends at home, the court heard.

This followed orders given by the officer in charge to deter looters by "working them hard", an order allegedly contravening the Geneva Convention. The images are the most damaging to emerge since photographs of Iraqis being mistreated by American captors at Abu Ghraib prison appeared last year.

Senior officers fear they will be used by insurgents as evidence that the British have no respect for Iraqi prisoners.

Gen Sir Mike Jackson, the Chief of the General Staff, issued a statement last night condemning any abuse of prisoners, insisting that the Army took all such allegations seriously and promising to deal with any issues that arise from the trial.

While unable to comment on the allegations before the court, Gen Jackson said: "We condemn utterly all acts of abuse. Where there is evidence of abuse this is investigated immediately.

"Some 65,000 servicemen and women have served in Iraq since the beginning of military operations. Only a small number are alleged to be involved in incidents of this type." Military police have investigated 160 cases of death, injury or ill-treatment allegedly meted out to Iraqis.

The court martial in Osnabruck is one of four cases in which trials have been directed. Ten others are being considered.

Cooley is on trial with L/Cpl Darren Larkin and Cpl Daniel Kenyon. The panel of seven officers who make up the court martial's equivalent of a jury was shown 22 photographs, all central to the evidence against the three soldiers.

Lt Col Nick Clapham, prosecuting, said: "It cannot be said that these photos depict images that are anything other than shocking and appalling."

Evidence emerged after Fusilier Gary Bartlam took 15 of the pictures to a photographic processors at home in Tamworth, Staffs.

Bartlam was convicted of unspecified charges at a separate court martial.

The photographs shown to the court were taken by Bartlam and four other soldiers, only one of whom is facing any charges in this case.

They depict all the alleged offences, said to have taken place at a warehouse outside Basra on May 15, 2003.

The court was told the incidents occurred following an attempt by Major Dan Taylor, the officer in charge of the men, to end an "epidemic" of looting at the end of the war. The warehouse was part of Camp Breadbasket, which was full of international food aid and a target for looters.

Major Taylor, the regimental quartermaster, launched Operation Ali Baba to deter the looters and captured more than 20.

He ordered his men to "work the prisoners hard" to deter them from repeating their crimes.

"Although the order to work the prisoners hard was an illegal one," said Col Clapham, "had these defendants done no more than what this order envisaged they would not be facing the charges they are today."

Larkin, 30, admits one charge of assaulting an unnamed Iraqi but denies abusing two others. He accepts that he "brought shame on his proud regiment".

Cooley and Kenyon, 33, his section commander, deny all charges against them.
 
#15
As I understand it the OC's order was to possibly make the looters do some hard graft. Although this is still an illegal order it doesn't cover what these berks have allegedley done. My concern is where were the SNCOs and Offrs when this was going on, I can't believe that they weren't aware of this even if they didn't know at the time it would have come out soon after, one of the guys put his photos into be developed - not the actions of your brightest member.

If they are found guilty hope they lock them up for a long time - war crime is a war crime!!
 
#16
far2young2die said:
As I understand it the OC's order was to possibly make the looters do some hard graft. Although this is still an illegal order it doesn't cover what these berks have allegedley done...
Thank you f2y2d for emphasizing that point. (Without prejudice of course to whatever the defence decide to put forward in the current court martial). Errrr I hope that covers all the angles!
 
#17
From the reaction over the last 24 hours we see a distinct lack of leadership from senior figures in politics and the media who seem more interested in grubby point scoring. The BBC's coverage on this morning's today programme was frankly a disgrace.

The point surely is that what went on here was not national policy (ignore the crap about acting on orders - the US defence lawyers of the Abu Graib accused tried that and failed as well) it was soldiers going beyond the law and common human decency, and having been caught they are being tried in an open court.

This ought to be the message that we should be sending the the Arab world i.e. ".. in a liberal democracy this sort of behaviour is unacceptable and will be punished.."

Bear in mind that in the majority of Middle Eastern countries (NONE of which are true liberal democracies) this sort of treatment of prisoners of any persuasion (criminal or military, or political) is the norm.
 
#18
I've just read The Times report on this: "horrific" is the description they use of the photographs: the one they show depicts a squaddie standing on a bound bloke on the floor.

This is not horrific, its bullying. It is damaging to the reputation of the Army and will be seized upon for gain but lets face reality here: its not horrific.

Auschwitz, thats horrific. Saddams' sons killing prisoners by dipping them in acid - that too.
 
#19
Should we be speculating or commenting on whether or not these specific actions are illegal or illegal, or give opinions on why they're guilty or not guilty? I don't think for one minute that either side's legal teams will be hungrily looking at ARSSE for inspiration but we might want to hesitate before clicking that 'submit' button? I don't think that's sanctimonious, but I do think it fairer to the guys in the dock.
 
#20
One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is merely a statistic
According to Stalin anyway and lets face it he knew a bit about horrific treatment of people. It's the same with this - Saddams brutality towards a whole population doesn't seem as bad as photos of 1 person being abused.
 
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