A former soldier revealed yesterday how he tortured an Iraqi prisoner to death for “talk-bitter,” believed to be the first confession of its kind.
The Black Watch soldier described the suffering he has inflicted on the prisoner, knowing that there will be no further criminal investigation against him.
The shocking case raises even more alarming questions about the effectiveness of the British military’s justice system and the competence of its police officers.
For years, completely innocent Iraq veterans have faced intrusive investigations and re-examinations into allegations of abuse that prevented them from moving on with their lives.
But yesterday it emerged that the retired soldier who ruthlessly mistreated a prisoner is untouchable by any court in this country or the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The Black Watch private described the distress he has inflicted on the prisoner, knowing that he will face no further criminal investigation (file image of a sentry from the Black Watch)
For years, completely innocent Iraq veterans have faced intrusive investigations and re-examinations into allegations of abuse that prevented them from moving on with their lives. But yesterday it emerged that the retired soldier who brutally mistreated a prisoner is untouchable before any court in this country or the International Criminal Court (ICC) (file image)
The legal order granting him immunity and anonymity was signed in 2021 by Suella Braverman when she was Attorney General.
The squaddie, who appeared for the Iraq Fatality Investigations (IFI) inquest into the deaths of civilians in British custody, was identified by his cipher ‘SO89’ when he described Mousa Ali’s ordeal on May 13, 2003.
At temperatures above 40C (104F), SO89 – with colleague SO103 – forced Mr. Ali to do exercises while carrying 25 kg (55 lb) jerry cans and to do stress poses.
Such ill-treatment of detainees is considered torture under international law and is also illegal under UK law.
He told the inquiry how Mr Ali, who was in his 50s and morbidly obese, begged for mercy as he repeatedly collapsed and had to be dragged to his feet.
SO89 had taken it upon himself to torture the Iraqi, as he had been given no other order than to guard him at Camp Stephen in Basra.
Mr Ali, a married father of two, was arrested by British soldiers after a gun was found in his home, but he was not considered a threat to British forces.
Remarkably, SO89 said putting Mr Ali through such an ordeal was ‘chat, to pass the time’.
Speaking via a virtual link to the IFI hearing, he said: “He was a big kid, maybe the drills didn’t help. Stress position was his default position, he always started and ended in it. He became more out of breath.
He kept falling down exhausted. I lifted him up on his feet a few times. There was nothing other than him being sweaty that would make me think something was wrong.
‘It was to pass the time. It was, let’s have a little fun. We made fun of him, it was a joke.’
The shocking case raises even more alarming questions about the effectiveness of the British military’s justice system and the competence of its police officers
Mr. Ali slumped onto his side and foam came out of his mouth. He was pronounced dead by the regiment’s medical officer, with the cause of death recorded as ‘unknown’.
His body was taken to the hospital where a death certificate on May 15, 2003 listed ‘heart failure’ as the cause of death. There was no autopsy.
When questioned by the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, SO89 failed to mention the brutal practice session. When asked why, he told Dame Anne Rafferty, the retired judge who led the inquiry, “Maybe they didn’t ask me the question.”
The IFI website states that the investigation is “not aimed at determining civil or criminal liability,” adding: “The Inspector requests commitments from the ICC Attorney General and Prosecutor that witnesses will not be prosecuted on the basis of any self-incriminating evidence they provide.’
SO89 left the military in 2005 – neither he nor SO103 were ever charged.
A Defense Ministry spokesman said the “event in question has been investigated through multiple criminal investigations” with no prosecution due to “insufficient evidence,” adding: “We are committed to improving procedures.
“We have also conducted evaluations of Service Policing and the Service Justice System and work continues on a number of reforms to ensure that justice in the armed forces is effective.”