05/05/2004

'Torture' pictures handed over to Royal Military Police

Pictures published in the Daily Mirror allegedly showing an Iraqi prisoner being abused by British soldiers have been handed over to Royal Military Police officers investigating the case.

Yesterday, in a statement to the Commons, Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram, pledged that "no stone would be left unturned" and confirmed that the paper has handed over 20 photographs to investigators.

Mr Ingram said that the Government were treating the allegations "very seriously" and that appropriate action would be taken if soldiers were found to have acted unlawfully. He added that he thought it would be inappropriate to apply undue pressure to hasten the investigation into the allegations.

The Daily Mirror's editorial today has lauded the Government's approach to the paper's "revelations" in the photos appearing to show an Iraqi prisoner being tortured by British soldiers.

The pictures, purport to show an Iraqi prisoner being abused by soldiers from the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, have been widely dismissed as having various serious "inaccuracies" by military sources.

But the newspaper's defiant editorial today declared "our sources will never be handed over," and challenged anyone to provide evidence that the pictures were a hoax.

However, suspicions that the pictures are fakes, possible even a "reconstruction" staged by Military Police, have focused on the clothing, weapons and equipment shown in the photographs. The alleged victim has no visible injuries, is clean and is not sweating.

The paper claims that two members of the regiment concerned are the source of the pictures and said they were standing by their accounts.

Last night in an interview for Channel 4 News, Commons Defence Select Committee Chairman Bruce George said Mr Morgan could be summoned before the committee to provide evidence about his decision to publish the photographs.

It is reported that the Daily Mirror may have paid up to £20,000 for the pictures.

Lawyers acting for a number of Iraqi families have today lodged an application for a judicial review over cases that are believed to include allegations of unlawful killing.

(SP)

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