A new document accusing UK forces operating in Iraq of systematic abuse of prisoners has been presented to the International Criminal Court, and could potentially lead to the prosecution of top British defense figures for the alleged war crimes.
The dossier, presented as a “formal complaint” to the ICC, was prepared by the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and the Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) group over the last several years, the Independent reported on Sunday.
The document, examined by the British daily, reportedly contains “damning” evidence of a ”pattern of abusive treatment by UK services personnel in Iraq” which amount to “war crimes of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” of prisoners.
The report covers the years 2003-2008 and contains details on “thousands of allegations” of abuse carried out by UK personnel, including “brutality combined with cruelty and forms of sadism, including sexual abuse, and sexual and religious humiliation.”
The ICC already acknowledged in 2006 that war crimes were likely carried out by UK forces operating in Iraq, but at the time said that there were not enough cases to open a formal investigation.
The new allegations could lead to the international prosecutions of top defense officials, including “General Sir Peter Wall, the head of the British Army; former defense secretary Geoff Hoon; and former defence minister Adam Ingram,” the report said.
The UK Defense Ministry denied that there was systematic torture of detainees in Iraq and said that ”these matters are either under thorough investigation or have been dealt with” and that “further action through the ICC is unnecessary” because “the issues and allegations are already known to the UK Government, action is in hand and the UK courts have already issued judgments.”
The full ICC dossier is to be released to the public later this week.