British soldiers face Iraq detainee abuse probe

British soldiers on patrol Image copyright PA

British soldiers are being investigated over allegations of mistreating two Iraqi detainees in 2003.

Faisal al-Saadoon and Khalaf Mufdhi were detained in Basra and accused of involvement in the deaths of two British soldiers, Staff Sgt Simon Cullingworth and Sapper Luke Allsopp.

An Iraqi court later decided there was insufficient evidence to try the men.

Allegations that the men were mistreated by British soldiers are now being investigated by the UK's Iraq Historic Allegations Team (Ihat).

Claims on 'industrial scale'

Ihat was set up in 2010 to look at allegations of abuse by the British military against Iraqis between 2003 and 2009.

In October, Prime Minister Theresa May said her government would take action over the "industrial scale" of claims lodged with Ihat using legal aid funding.

It is not known how many troops are being investigated over the treatment of Mr al-Saadoon and Mr Mufdhi.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Sapper Luke Allsopp, left, and Staff Sgt Simon Cullingworth were unlawfully killed during the Iraq War in March 2003

The two men, now both in their 60s, were accused of murdering Staff Sgt Cullingworth and Pte Allsopp. An inquest found that the British soldiers were ambushed by Iraqi militiamen, taken to an Iraqi intelligence base and shot.

Mr al-Saadoon and Mr Mufdhi were formally charged in 2006 with murder and war crimes but the charges were later annulled by an Iraqi court on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

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Media captionThe defence secretary explains how troops will be protected from "vexatious" legal claims

The pair were eventually awarded £36,000 in legal costs.

The criminal claims against British soldiers were brought forward by Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), which closed in August after it was told it would no longer receive legal aid funding.

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