By Richard Norton-Taylor
BRITISH soldiers forced a Shia militia commander to listen to pornographic videos, deprived him of sleep, repeatedly beat him, and kept him in solitary confinement for more than five months, according to fresh damning allegations against the conduct of UK troops in Basra.
A detailed account of the latest claims of unlawful treatment by British soldiers are contained in a 20-page witness statement of Ahmed Jawad al-Fartoosi, a leader of the radical Shia cleric Moqtada al Sadr’s militia, the Mahdi army. The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on Friday that the military police were investigating the allegations. Fartoosi was detained for more than two years, including nearly six months in solitary confinement. He was arrested in his Basra home in September 2005 and released late last year after British forces agreed to an Iraqi-sponsored deal with the militia.
He says he was beaten with rifle butts and blindfolded before he was put in a tank. For 12 hours he and his fellow detainees given no food and were prevented from going to the toilet.
He says he was taken to the British base at Shaibah, on the outskirts of Basra, where he spent 72 days in solitary confinement in a small cell with no ventilation, though he says he was provided with three cooked meals a day. On the third or fourth night, he says, soldiers brought a laptop and placed it on a window sill just outside his cell.
“It was playing at the loudest possible volume. Thereafter for the next month the porn movies were played all night.”
—The Guardian, London