Public Inquiry into the death of Baha Mousa

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by defenceheadquarters, May 14, 2008.

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  1. The Ministry of Defence has announced today, Wednesday 14 May 2008, that a Public Inquiry will be held into the death of Baha Mousa, who died in British custody in September 2003.

    The scope of the Inquiry is still under consideration and details will be made public once they have been established. Findings of the Inquiry will also be published once it has been concluded.


    Defence Secretary, Des Browne, said of today's announcement:

    "A Public Inquiry into the death of Baha Mousa is the right thing to do. It will reassure the public that we are leaving no stone unturned in investigating his tragic death. The Army has nothing to hide in this respect and is keen to learn all the lessons it can from this terrible incident."

    Mr Browne has also issued the following Written Ministerial Statement to Parliament regarding the Public Inquiry into the death of Baha Mousa:

    "In my statement of 25 January, I promised to make an announcement once I had reached a decision on what form any future inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr Baha Mousa in Iraq in September 2003 might take.

    "After wide consultation and after considering the representations that I have received, with the full support of the military chain of command, including the Chief of the Defence Staff and the Chief of the General Staff, I have decided that the right thing to do is to establish a Public Inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005. The inquiry will examine the circumstances surrounding the death of Baha Mousa. The Terms of Reference and other details will be made public once they have been established in accordance with the provisions of the Act, and the inquiry report will be published.

    "This reinforces my determination, and that of the Chief of the General Staff, to do everything we can to understand how it came to be that Mr Mousa lost his life. The Army has no wish to hide anything in this respect. It has looked at itself very critically since 2003, and has made a number of significant changes that were enumerated in Brigadier Aitken’s report of January this year. It nevertheless remains anxious to learn all the lessons that it possibly can from this disturbing incident.

    "Overall, the conduct of tens of thousands of our people in Iraq has been exemplary; it is a tiny number who have caused a stain on the reputation of the British Army. But that does not mean we can allow these events to pass without looking into them thoroughly.

    "I hope this independent inquiry will reassure the public that no stone has been left unturned. The Army and the Ministry of Defence will be giving the fullest co-operation to this inquiry."


    Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Richard Dannatt, also issued the following statement following today's announcement:

    "The British Army in Iraq has performed exceptionally well under extraordinarily testing conditions and of that there is no doubt. But in September 2003, a number of Iraqi civilians were arrested and taken into custody by soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment. One of those civilians, Mr Baha Mousa, died while being held in Army detention and the subsequent post mortem examination showed that he had suffered asphyxiation and some 93 injuries to his body.

    "Ever since Mr Baha Mousa died, my predecessor, General Sir Mike Jackson and I have been determined to establish how and why this occurred. The Army has a duty to investigate all serious cases of abuse and this incident has been subject to the most intensive investigation. The Court Martial of Corporal Payne and others last year and the publication of the Aitken Report earlier this year have gone some way to shed light on this disgraceful incident; the Aitken Report in particular was rightly critical of the Army in certain areas and revealed a number of important lessons to be learned which we have taken steps already to put right. I am therefore confident that all soldiers deploying on operations now are fully trained in their legal responsibilities, in particular concerning the humane treatment of detainees.

    "But we cannot escape the fact that, there are important questions that have yet to be answered in connection with Mr Baha Mousa’s death. Although the Aitken Report identified important lessons to be learned, it was not able to fully explain how and why these circumstances occurred and I therefore welcome the announcement today by the Secretary of State for Defence of a Public Inquiry that will examine all the circumstances leading up to and surrounding, the death of Mr Baha Mousa.

    "The terms of the reference of the Public Inquiry will be announced in due course and the Army will give the fullest cooperation. There is no wish to hide anything in the Inquiry’s quest to understand and report on what happened.

    "As soldiers, we know only too well that the conduct of military operations is both difficult and dangerous but we also know that it is our duty to behave in accordance with both the law and the Army’s core values. These core values include courage, integrity and discipline as well as loyalty, selfless commitment and crucially in this case - respect for others. The Army’s operational effectiveness and reputation depend on this.

    "And whilst the Army is an extremely professional war-fighting force, committed to campaigns in both Iraq and Afghanistan, a small number of individuals have let us down and we need to understand how and why this came about.

    "All our soldiers know that collectively and individually, we can, and should, be called to account when things go wrong. Our perseverance in this case should therefore come as no surprise and I welcome the transparency that a Public Inquiry will provide.

    "As Chief of the General Staff and in all my previous appointments, I have made it clear that I expect all commanders to set an example to their subordinates, and to provide the leadership and supervision that will ensure the delivery of the required outcomes, as well as professional behaviour. The Army knows that Mr Baha Mousa should have been treated properly and lawfully but he was not.

    "This was not a case of misjudgment in the heat of battle, or in the heat of the moment. There can be no excuse. We have a genuinely world class reputation and therefore I am determined that we must never allow a few of our people to damage the reputation of the majority in this manner again.

    "That is why I welcome the announcement of the Public Inquiry today as the right thing to do as we endeavour to find out how and why it came to be that Mr Baha Mousa died in September 2003."

    More information here:

    This message was posted by the Ministry of Defence. You can find a copy at
  2. Ord_Sgt

    Ord_Sgt RIP

    Hows about I save the country some money by giving the results now: Mousa did unlawfully at the hands of a person or persons unknown.

    There you go, that's what will be concluded and it will save us 5 million pounds as well. If there was more to be known it would have come out in the court case. This is just an attempt to take the attention away from government.

    Cynical, moi?
  3. ... but he wants to gag the coroners criticizing zanulabgov over their atrocious lack of support for the troops!
  4. which MOD purse is that money coming from? our housing renovation? our equipment or maybe out of next years potential pay increase?!
  5. I'm absolutely sure that Baha Mousa's case is something atypical, exceptional, extraordinary.

    There was the trial, there was the verdict. It would be logical to close the case.

    However, personally I'm not well aware about some details. No doubt my questions were answered long ago. So who is well informed to answer them?

    1. There were allegations that money were stolen from the safe in the hotel where mr.Mousa worked. Were the allegation confirmed or not? Were legal (or any other) actions taken in this respect?

    2. What are explanations made by officers who had to maintain discipline, law and order in the base? Were they aware about any wrongdoing and if yes then why didn't they stopped them?

    3. What decision has been made (or has not?) about fair compensation to the relatives of mr.Mousa?

    These questions are held for informational purposes only. I don't intent to continue discussion on this matter in any form. I'm only waiting for answers and would not comment them.
  6. I agree with General Dannatt on this one.

    The ongoing perception that this has not been investigated fully does us a lot of damage worldwide, and lends credibility to some of the completely made up allegations that get thrown at the armed forces.

    I'm surprised anyone can find the judge's summing up ('no evidence against them as a result of a more or less obvious closing of ranks') at the court martial a satisfactory outcome for the army.
  7. TheIronDuke

    TheIronDuke LE Book Reviewer

    In the absence of photographic, DNA or other physical evidence, and in the absence of damning witness statements, what would you suggest as the verdict? "Guilty as charged but I cant prove it"?

    Hopefully the Aitken Report changed the plot. So pay the mans family and move on?
  8. Correct - just because the outcome of the case was not what was wanted (needed?) we can't just go around changing the rules. What is a Public Inquiry going to find out that the Court didn't? If they closed ranks then they will sure as hell close ranks now.

    And before anybody jumps on the bandwagon - the guy didn't die all by himself - somebody helped. So its not right - but it is the law.
  9. It's the Bloody Sunday Syndrome. Keep holding enquiries until the 'right' result is reached.

    In this case the 'right' result is reached when the government can curry enough favour with the liberal left by publicly flagellating itself at the expense of someone else's career.
  10. Awol,

    You are aware a civilian detainee was beaten to death in custody aren't you?

    You are also aware of the umpteen threads on this subject on Arrse with many contributions from serving soldiers, including some who were in theatre at the time, and close to the subsequent investigations who are deeply unsatisfied and unhappy with the outcome so far, and the way it reflects on the British Army?

    There is no "Politically expedient Bloody Sunday" taint to this at all. There does remain to my mind, and the minds of others , a taint inflicted on the rest of the Army by a very few.

    Anything that can be done to remove this taint , should be encouraged in my personal opinion.

    There has to be a public inquiry, to make sure the public , both domestic and international, are left in no doubt that this is NOT the way the British Army conducts itself, by action or reputation.
  11. Spot on PTP.
    The decent vast majority will emerge with their reputations unscathed, indeed enhanced, as will The Army overall. The miniscule minority of thugs and sadists who have besmirched the honour of all will be exposed. Hopefully.
  12. Don't try and patronise me Pongo. I'm fully aware someone died, thank you very much

    Now tell me, what is the point of a Court Martial, if the judgement is going to be ignored? In your own words.

    And is your pomposity natural, or have you taken lessons?
  13. The judgement has not been ignored. The judgement created a situation many find unacceptable and this is, rightly, being addressed.
  14. Awol, sometimes it's not about 'pandering to the liberal left'. It's about making sure we are seen , as publicly as possible to NOT be closing ranks and sweeping this under the carpet.

    A public inquiry is neccessary , and the Army seen to be exhausting every avenue to ensure the public know that their faith and belief in us, is not misplaced , and is indeed well-founded.

    Not just the domestic British public, but more importantly, the public in the areas of conflict we operate in. I do not need to tell you, returning briefly to your Bloody Sunday analogy, what the effect can be if we are not seen to be making every effort to ensure transparency?

    Anything that even smells of closing ranks or quiet dismissal, will be gleefully seized upon by enemies , domestic and foreign and propagated ad infinitum as an an example that you cannot trust the British.

    Trust is an important component of our operations now and for the foreseeable future. Anything that can be done to restore and enchance that trust , must be done.
  15. Awol

    Someone in the regiment got away with murder, and did so with the complicity of others in that regiment.

    The publlic inquiry will not necessarily find out whodunit, but will explain to a wider public just how they were able to get away with it. This will demonstrate to the public that the army is not brushing this under the carpet.