Baha Mousa: British Soldiers Responsible Should Face War Crimes, Says Victim's Lawyer
British soldiers responsible for the brutal death of an Iraqi father-of-two should face charges ranging from murder to war crimes, a lawyer for the victim's family said.
A landmark public inquiry concluded last week that Baha Mousa, 26, died after an "appalling episode of serious gratuitous violence" meted out by members of 1st Battalion the Queen's Lancashire Regiment (1QLR) in September 2003.
His family's solicitor, Phil Shiner, announced he was writing to Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer and Director of Service Prosecutions Bruce Houlder to urge them to bring charges against the troops involved.
Mr Mousa's father, Iraqi police colonel Daoud Mousa, backed calls for the authorities to bring prosecutions. Speaking through an interpreter, he told a press conference in London: "I see justice in this report. I also want to see those responsible for these actions brought to justice."
Mr Shiner, from Birmingham-based Public Interest Lawyers, called for Corporal Donald Payne - who was found by the inquiry to have violently assaulted Mr Mousa in the minutes before he died - to be charged with murder and manslaughter.
Public inquiry chairman Sir William Gage said a number of British officers who could have stopped the abuse, including 1QLR's former commanding officer Colonel Jorge Mendonca, bore a "heavy responsibility" for the "grave and shameful events".
His report named 19 soldiers who assaulted Mr Mousa and nine other Iraqis detained with him, and found that many others, including several officers, must have known what was happening. Sir William also found that two 1QLR officers - Lieutenant Craig Rodgers and Major Michael Peebles - were aware that the detainees were being subjected to serious assaults by more junior soldiers.
Mr Shiner said prosecutors should consider bringing charges of conspiracy to commit breaches of the Geneva Conventions, namely torture and inhumane treatment, and misconduct in a public office against Col Mendonca and Maj Peebles.
Defence Secretary Liam Fox last week said Mr Mousa's death was "deplorable, shocking and shameful" and announced he had asked the head of the Army, General Sir Peter Wall, to consider what action can be taken against serving soldiers criticised in the report.
However Mr Shiner said: "To respond to the very damning Baha Mousa inquiry report by again trying to sweep the horror of what happened under the carpet by administrative action internal to the armed forces would be an absolute disgrace."