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Tuesday, 13 March 2007

British judge says headquarters okayed Iraq abuse

A judge said on Monday the reason he had ordered charges dropped against the most senior British officer to be tried for prisoner abuse in Iraq was because headquarters had approved some of the abuses.

The British military has denied that its commanders approved abusing prisoners.

But a witness, Major Anthony Royce, testified during a court martial of seven other soldiers over the death of an Iraqi hotel receptionist that some abuse was approved by higher-ups at British brigade headquarters.

Three weeks ago Judge Stuart McKinnon ordered cases dropped against five of the soldiers, including the former commander of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment Lieutenant Colonel Jorge Mendonca. They were part of a group charged with prisoner abuse that led to the death of one inmate in custody in 2003.