Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Kids not feeling the love





Today in England, the inquiry into the death of Iraqi Baha Mousa (while in British custody) heard from two witnesses. Baha died September 16, 2003, after being beaten so badly that he had at least 93 injuries. His father gave testimony to the inquiry last Wednesday and stated he believed his son had been killed because he (the father, Daoud Salim Mousa al-Maliki) saw British soldiers breaking into a safe and stealing money, "I believe that my son may have been treated worse than other people because I had made a complaint to Lieutenant Mike that money was being stolen from the hotel safe." D007, an Iraqi also taken into British custody September 14, 2003 testified for the bulk of the day. He explained his ordeal which started when he was driving a Ministry of Education car, with permission from the Ministry, and was car-jacked.

Gerald Elias: Yes. As you were getting to the Ministry, you tell the Inquiry in your statement that something happened. Just tell us briefly what happened please.

D007: As I contacted Mr C006 and I told him that I had dropped the director of the municipality and some of the Ministry of Oil's staff. He asked me to go with the car to the parking lot of the Ministry, which was close to the Ministry, and when I was close to the Ministry I faced that accident.

Gerald Elias: What did you see when you were close to the Ministry?

D007: I saw a car alongside my car that I had been driving and they attacked me at gunpoint. Instead of going to the Ministry, I then went very fast towards the street ahead of me. I got to a crossing in Basra and after that crossing I saw a big truck so I had to wait. I had to stop.

Gerald Elias: What happened then?

D007: In the meantime, they were alongside myself. They got off their car. One of them came to me with a Kalashnikov and put it at my head -- pointed it at my head -- and he ordered me to remain where I was, not to drive on. Two people got into the back seat of my car. The person who had me at gunpoint, next to me, he got into my car in the passenger seat.

Gerald Elias: Just pause there if you will. So there were now three people in the car, two in the back and one in the passenger seat. Is that what you are saying?

D007: Correct.

Gerald Elias: Did you see how many of them had guns?

D007: Yes, they had guns.

Gerald Elias: Each of them had a gun?

D007: Yes, yes, each had a gun.

Gerald Elias: Were they carrying the guns or were the guns slung around their necks or what?

D007: They were hand-carried and the ammunition was on their chests.

Gerald Elias: Hand-carried; the ammunition was on their chests. Do you mean the ammunition was on their chests because it was looped around their necks or what?

[. . .]

Gerald Elias: So, as you told us, you decided to drive faster and not to obey the orders of the armed men in the car. Is that it?

D007: Correct.

Gerald Elias: You took the opportunity to drive the car into a collision because you told the Inquiry that you thought that was the best way for you to escape; is that right?

D007: Correct.

[. . .]

Gerald Elias: So when you crashed the car it stopped, did it?

D007: That is correct and I ran away from the car.

[. . .]

Gerald Elias: I think it's right, isn't it, that shortly after British soldiers arrived on the scene where the crash had occurred?

D007: Yes, they got there.

Gerald Elias: British soldiers went to examine the car that you had been driving, didn't they?

[. . .]

Gerald Elias: It wasn't only the guns that they left in the car, was it? I am just going to tell you what else the soldiers found when they searched the car. These items were found either on the back seats or in the footwell behind the driver's seat, we are told. They found the three rifles; they found eight magazines containing, I think, 240 rounds each; they found one radio antenna, as well as some paperwork, documents, which I will come to in a minute. Had all those things been in the car before these men had come into the car or do you say they brought those things as well?

D007: What I know is that the papers were car papers --

Gerald Elias: Leave aside the papers for the moment. What about the eight magazines of ammunition? Do you say the men had left those as well?

D007: Yes. Yes.

[. . .]

Gerald Elias: Did the attitude of the soldiers change at any time at the police station?

D007: As we got to the police station, one of the soldiers -- the British Council -- the British troops -- he was make a contact. The policeman asked me what had happened and I explained to him. The officer understood English to some extent, so he went on explaining to one of the British soldiers and instantly the treatment changed, the treatment of the British soldiers changed and violence by the British troops started.

Gerald Elias: You say violence started. What was done to you?

D007: They immediately pulled me from behind my collar, took me to British Army vehicle. They got me there and the cars moved. I didn't know where we were going. On the road --

Gerald Elias: Just listen to my questions, if you will. When you left the police station, you say you were dragged by your collar to a vehicle. Was that to a Land Rover?

D007: Yes, it was a Land Rover, and which was close to the centre we were going, which would do, and that was close.

Gerald Elias: Are you sure it was a Land Rover, not a different army vehicle?

D007: I am sure because usually this car would be patrolling the province of Basra.

Gerald Elias: When you were taken to the Land Rover, were you restrained in any way?

D007: At the incident as it happened, I was tied up.

Gerald Elias: In what way were you tied up?

D007: With a plastic band and my hands were tied forward.

[. . .]

Gerald Elias: I want to ask you about that journey in the Land Rover: were you ill-treated in any way on that journey to the detention centre?

D007: I was getting some kicks from the soldiers who were in the back of the vehicle.

Gerald Elias: How many soldiers were in the Land Rover travelling with you?

D007: Two or three.

Gerald Elias: Where were you kicked? To which part of your body?

D007: My right thigh and my left thigh.

[. . .]

Gerald Elias: All right. Now I want to ask you about arriving at the detention centre where you were then kept until the Tuesday. This was the Sunday. You didn't know where you were going, did you, with the soldiers?

D007: I didn't know. I didn't know.

Gerald Elias: When you arrived at the detention centre --

D007: then I knew where I was.

Gerald Elias: You recognized the place, did you?

D007: In the beginning that place was well known in Basra.

Gerald Elias: What did you know it as?

D007: I knew it belonged to the Iraqi Intelligence Service.

Gerald Elias: Were you taken from the Land Rover when you arrived there?

D007: Until we got to the place where I had been put, they didn't get me right into the room immediately.

Gerald Elias: But they took you to a building, did they?

D007: Correct.

[. . .]

D007: When I got into the right-hand-side room, I saw people hooded. Part of those persons were on the right-hand side wall and the others were on the opposite side.

Gerald Elias: Were all the men that you saw hooded?

D007: Yes, all were hooded.

Gerald Elias: Can you remember how many men in total there were in that room hooded?

D007: Between five to six persons.

Gerald Elias: Five or six people. Apart from their heads being hooded, were they restrained in any other way that you see?

D007: I saw them restricted, tied up.

Gerald Elias: What in particular tied up?

D007: With a plastic band.

Gerald Elias: You are indicating your hands together. The wrists were tied with a band, were they?

D007: Yes, yes. [. . .] They were exhausted. Their condition was pitiful. In the beginning anybody would come in and see them, he would instantly recognise that they had been tortured.

Gerald Elias: I want a little bit more help, please, about that. Were any of them making any noise?

D007: It was moaning as a result of torture.

Gerald Elias: It was moaning.

D007: Yes.

He is hooded. His hood was removed only for meals and water (and a British soldier removed it once to give him a cigarette).

D007: They continued to beat me.

Gerald Elias: In what way did they beat you?

D007: On the right-hand side of my body at the kidney and then the right-hand side of my thigh -- on my right thigh. Then, with shoes on my head, they asked me to stand with my hands forward like this. [. . .] The blows were very hard and strong.

Gerald Elias: Do you know, for example, whether you were punched or kicked or hit with some object or don't you know?

D007: Kicks and with a device or a tool.

Gerald Elias: How soon after you were hooded did this beating start?

D007: After a short time.

And on his second night (Monday -- still not at Camp Bucca) he recalled, "Before my hood was lifted off my head, I was still receiving so many kicks -- so many beatings. One of the British soldiers strangled me -- that took around an hour or 20 minutes -- and then they left me. [. . .] His hands were -- thumbs, fingers, in my mouth, and the rest of his hands or palms around my neck with pressure. The second time he lifted my hood up to the middle of my face, to abvoe my eyes, and he also strangled me the same way." During the nearly 48 hours in custody (all before Camp Bucca), British soldiers refused to allow him to sleep, allowed him only one bathroom break, offered food only once. To keep him awake, he was beaten, "No sleep" was shouted in his ear and water was poured over his hood. It was at this detention center that Baha was killed. The witnesses were there at the same time. While he was still in detention (before being moved to Camp Bucca), the car was claimed by the Ministry of Education (the car he had wrecked) and they verified that D007 had permission. Yet D007 was not released. Another witness offering testimony today was brought in at the same time and an owner of the hotel Baha worked at (Baha was at his job when he was hauled off). He is known as D006 and he verified seeing D007 beaten and discussed the beatings he and his adult son received.

D006: As we entered the detenion centre, they had our hands tied up and made us stand toward the wall or by the wall. Then they brought a hood or hoods. Then they made us stand on one leg [. . .] Well, they were beating me all day on my head saying "No sleep, no sleep" -- always, also, hitting me on my side [. . .] they were hitting me with the torch on my head and then there was some beating with the boots.

Gerald Elias: And the beating with the boots, where were the boots

D006: My kidney area.

He and his adult son were beaten. A doctor arrived when he collapsed (CPR was given). He had a prior heart condition and had heart surgery before being taken into British custody. He had not been given his medicine. The doctor instructed that he be given medicine, attempted to have him taken to a hospital (British soldiers refused) and instead demanded he be kept unhooded and allowed to lie down. called his treatment "a crime against humainty. Even Israel wouldn't do such a thing. [Ariel] Sharon is more honourable than the army that did that, the British Army that did that. Sharon is more honourable than what the army did. It was a crime against humanity, a crime. What had we done? Can I be insulted at this age?"

The inquiry continues tomorrow morning. Yesterday the inquiry heard from D001. BBC News reports that he testified to hearing Baha begging while being beaten: "I knew it was Baha because I had known him for a long time and could recognise his voice. It seemed as if he wasn't that far away from me and the toher detainees. I heard him crying out something like, 'I am very tired, I can tolerate no more, please give me five minutes. Have mercy on me, I'm dying. I'm about to die, help me.' Then after a while I did not hear Baha scream out any more."

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