LONDON — Three British soldiers face war crimes charges on suspicion of inhumane treatment of detainees in Iraq, the government said Tuesday. One of the soldiers is also charged with manslaughter in the death of an Iraqi civilian.
It was the first time British troops have faced war crimes charges stemming from the Iraq war, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense said.
The troops will face a British court-martial under the International Criminal Court Act in connection with events surrounding the death of a hotel receptionist shortly after he was arrested in September 2003 along with other Iraqi civilians and taken to a British military base, Atty. Gen. Lord Peter Goldsmith said.
Cpl. Donald Payne, 34, is charged with manslaughter in the death of 26-year-old Baha Mousa and with the war crime of treating him inhumanely, according to a charge sheet released by Goldsmith's office.
Payne is also charged with inhumanely treating eight other Iraqi detainees and with perverting the course of justice by allegedly urging anyone questioned about Mousa's death to say he banged his head and died accidentally.
The government offered no further details on Mousa's death and did not say what happened to the other detainees.
Lance Cpl. Wayne Crowcroft, 21, and Pvt. Darren Fallon, 22, are also charged with the war crime of inhumanely treating detained Iraqi civilians.
Payne, Crowcroft and Fallon are in the Queen's Lancashire Regiment.
Four other soldiers face lesser charges relating to the same operation.
Goldsmith also announced that four soldiers would face a court-martial on manslaughter charges in the death of a 17-year-old Iraqi who was among three civilians arrested on suspicion of looting in Basra on May 8, 2003. The soldiers are accused of punching and kicking the detainees and forcing them to swim in a canal. One detainee, Ahmed Jabbar Kareem Ali, drowned.
Sgt. Carle Selman, 38, of the Scots Guards; guardsman Martin McGing, 21, and guardsman Joseph McCleary, 23, both of the Irish Guards; and another soldier whose name was not released were charged in Ali's death.
Britain has about 8,500 troops in Iraq, mostly in the generally peaceful Shiite Muslim south, where support for the Shiite-led government in Baghdad is stronger.