Al-Byati: Iraqi doctor denies tribunal claims

Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service Logo Dr Al-Byati left Iraq in December 1995 and settled in the UK in 2000

An Iraqi doctor has been accused of committing crimes against humanity as part of Saddam Hussein's regime, a medical tribunal has heard.

It is alleged Mohammed Al-Byati treated camp detainees in Iraq from December 1992 to March 1994.

The fitness to practise panel of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service said his involvement meant he was "complicit in acts of torture".

Dr Al-Byati, who has worked at UK hospitals, denies the allegations.

It is alleged that Dr Al-Byati visited camps and prisons and, whilst administering treatment, knew that some prisoners he treated had sustained injuries as a result of torture, and it was likely that the prisoners would be tortured again.

Asylum claim

Charles Garside QC, for the General Medical Council (GMC), told the panel Dr Al-Byati was born in Iraq and was the son of a colonel in the Iraqi army who was also a member of Saddam Hussein's Baath party.

It was told that Dr Al-Byati left Iraq permanently in December 1995 before settling in the UK in January 2000.

Mr Garside said there was "no criticism" of the doctor's clinical performance in this country.

Dr Al-Byati told the UK Border Agency about his work in Iraq after he made an application to claim asylum when his work permit was due to run out on 4 February, 2007.

Mr Garside told the hearing that Dr Al-Byati told the agency he had qualified as a doctor in Iraq and worked as a doctor at the headquarters of the Iraqi Intelligence Agency where "horrific atrocities" were committed.

"He told the Border Agency that he was involved in treating victims of torture and giving medical treatment to detainees. He said he knew that the people he treated would be tortured again and he knew that they were Kurds and Shia Muslims," he said.

"At that time Saddam Hussein was carrying out atrocities against Shia Muslims and Kurds in Iraq."

'Terrified of regime'

Mr Garside alleged Dr Al-Byati was "part of Saddam Hussein's machinery" which tortured groups, particularly Shia Muslims and Kurds, who Saddam Hussein believed were "enemies of the state".

"On the face of the facts alleged Dr Al-Byati has committed crimes against humanity," Mr Garside said.

"I accept that there's no evidence of that Dr Al-Byati personally engaged in any torture, but he was part of the machinery that acted."

After hearing the allegations the doctor said: "The case is based on evidence from the Home Office but if you read the whole thing from the Home Office they have no evidence at all.

Dr Al-Byati said his time working in the clinic involved him checking on "simple things" and he did not know how that made him complicit in a war crime.

At the time he had been in training as a doctor and on compulsory military service in Iraq and he said he and his family were "terrified" of the Saddam regime.

He said his job was to treat the people who worked there, adding: "Obviously, you don't ask who they are." But he said he was not aware that any of the people he treated were victims of torture.

Their injuries could have been sustained in a "fight or in an accident" and that if he asked too many questions he would be "shushed" by the escort, he told the hearing.

"That shush I know, it's for me as well. They are just giving me a warning: don't do it again," he said.

Under cross-examination from Mr Garside, Dr Al-Byati repeatedly denied that he knew that the people he treated had been tortured and would be tortured again.

However, he later admitted that when he saw detainees with bruises and fractures his own assumption was that it had come from torture and that he "didn't want to end up like him".

The tribunal was adjourned.

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