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Britain to investigate abuse allegations in Iraq : Officials will look into 33 complaints against military personnel.

November 15, 2009|Associated Press

LONDON — British authorities are investigating 33 allegations of abuse, including rape, torture and assault, by British soldiers who served in Iraq, the Ministry of Defense said Saturday.

One claimant says he was raped by two British soldiers; another claims he was sexually humiliated by male and female personnel. Others allege they were stripped naked and photographed in the same way as detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison, where abuses of prisoners by American troops helped fuel anti-U.S. sentiment.

British soldiers have faced a series of claims that they mistreated civilians in southern Iraq during six years of combat operations in the region. Last year, Britain settled a legal case involving the death of one Iraqi civilian and the abuse of nine others, paying out nearly $5 million in compensation.

A public inquiry is still underway into the death of hotel receptionist Baha Mousa. He suffered 93 separate injuries and died in the custody of British troops after a raid on his hotel in Basra in 2003. In that case, British Cpl. Donald Payne pleaded guilty to inhumane treatment of civilians in Britain's first war crimes conviction.

"Given the history of the U.K.'s involvement in the development of these techniques alongside the U.S., it is deeply concerning that there appears to be strong similarities between instances of the use of sexual humiliation," Phil Shiner, the lawyer representing the Iraqis who made the claims, said in a letter to the Ministry of Defense. He said some Iraqis have been coming forward since the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq this year.

The Ministry of Defense said the new allegations were being taken seriously.

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