Four soliders face court martial

Telegraph, 15 June

Four soliders face court martial on charges of sexually assaulting Iraqi civilians
By Joshua Rozenberg, Legal Editor and Michael Smith
(Filed: 15/06/2004)

Four soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers are to face a court martial on charges of abusing and sexually assaulting Iraqi civilians said the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith.

The charges follow the arrest of a soldier who took photographs to a high street shop to be developed. Lord Goldsmith said that four more cases were likely to be referred to Army prosecutors "in the very near future".

A total of 74 more cases of civilian deaths, injuries or alleged ill-treatment of Iraqis in British custody has been investigated. Seven cases await a decision to prosecute and 31 have been concluded with a decision to take no further action.

One of the soldiers facing charges is 19-year-old Fusilier Gary Bartlam, of 1 Bn the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. He is accused of battery and indecent assault.

Last May it was reported that he had left a roll of film for developing at a shop in Tamworth, Staffs. Staff called the police when they saw the pictures and Bartlam was arrested and taken into military custody.

Reports at the time said that one photograph appeared to show a man stripped to the waist and suspended high in the air by a rope attached to a fork-lift truck.

Two others appeared to show male Iraqis forced into sexual positions by their captors. A fourth picture was said to show two naked Iraqis cowering on the ground.

The Attorney General's office named two of the three other soldiers, who face indecent assault charges, as Mark Cooley and Daniel Kenyon. Kenyon, understood to be an NCO, is the only one of the four accused of failing to report the alleged incidents to higher authority, contrary to military discipline.

In a written statement to Parliament, Lord Goldsmith said the indecent assault charge "apparently involves making the victims engage in sexual activity between themselves".

He said the case concerned conduct "alleged to have occurred while the civilians were being temporarily detained but not in a prison or detention facility". The soldiers will be tried in public but there was no announcement about whether the military court would sit in Iraq or in Britain.

Three US servicemen have already been jailed after investigations into abuse of Iraqi prisoners held in the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad and others are facing trial.

While the cases of abuse at Abu Ghraib are alleged to have been systematic and institutionalised, British defence sources insist that the alleged British abuse was not authorised by senior ranks.

The announcement that charges were being brought was highly embarrassing for the Government and a setback for Tony Blair in his efforts to demonstrate that the situation in Iraq was improving.

Ministers are concerned that the allegations will be seen as the "Britain's Abu Ghraib" and could inflame an already tense situation in Iraq as this month's transfer of power approaches.

Although the alleged offences are not on the scale of the brutality at Abu Ghraib, they have undermined the Government's claims that British troops have acted more responsibly than their American counterparts.

The Government is determined to demonstrate that abuse will not be tolerated and that severe action will be taken if the offences of ill treatment are proved.

Lord Goldsmith's statement follows the controversy over photographs published by the Daily Mirror of members of Queen's Lancashire Regiment allegedly abusing Iraqi prisoners.

Although those photographs were shown to be fake, regimental sources say that "five or six" members of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment are being investigated over allegations of abuse.

A further case involving the death of an Iraqi while he was being arrested has been referred to the Crown Prosecution Service, which has asked the Metropolitan Police to investigate.

The regiment is not known but the soldier or soldiers involved have already been exonerated by their commanding officer, meaning that they cannot be tried by court martial.

Lord Goldsmith said that three other cases involving Iraqi civilians had been referred to the Army Prosecuting Authority. These were being "actively" considered.

The Attorney General supervises the Army Prosecuting Authority, which is independent of the military chain of command. It was set up in 1997 after the previous prosecuting arrangements were found to breach the European convention on human rights.

Once the authority concludes that a prosecution is in the public interest and that there is sufficient evidence to proceed, it decides whether there should be a district court martial or a general court martial.

Each consists of a civilian judge advocate sitting with serving military officers. A district court martial has fewer military members and more restricted sentencing powers than a general court martial.

The Contempt of Court Act applies to courts martial, whether they sit in Britain or abroad, in the same way as it does to jury trials.

Reporting the news, as it happens.....
Maybe I'm being a little naive here, but why has it taken so long to decide that there would be a court martial, let alone decide when that will be? Over a year if my calculations are correct. No wonder the reputation of Army investigations is so low. :oops: :oops: :oops:

If we do not speed up this process then we are opening ourselves up for critcism and not only that but prolong the bad news stories. You would think that with this being such high profile they could have fast tracked the case. :?:

Maybe MM or some other worthy with a greater understanding of these things could enlighten me.


Well the slower the better I say.
The Iraqis aren't going to be listening out for the 'not guilty' verdicts
...they will only notice when it's headlines when first reported
and then headlines again if convicted.
Let's just get all our lads and lasses safely home....
If theyre guilty then they should face whats coming, cant bang on about human rights and then abuse prisoners for a bit of fun and a photo opportunity.

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