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Soldier details abuse allegations

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is targeted over his handling of the abuse scandal.
Great Britain
Civil Rights

LONDON, England -- A British soldier has given military police details about prisoner abuse in Iraq, saying he witnessed the beating of inmates at the hands of the British military.

A Defence Ministry spokesman said military officials "take the allegations very seriously and welcome anyone with more information to come forward."

The Daily Mirror broke the story last weekend of alleged abuse by British troops, which included photos showing Iraqi prisoners being mistreated.

The photos generated outrage in Britain, prompting the Defense Ministry to launch an investigation.

The soldier spoke to the Royal Military Police on Thursday, a ministry spokesman said, but it was not clear if the allegations were related to incidents already being probed.

The soldier interviewed is in the regiment already under investigation.

The Daily Mirror said the man had given military police full details of the attacks, including names and ranks of the soldiers involved in the beatings, Reuters has reported.

In one photo published in last Friday's Mirror, a soldier could be seen urinating on a hooded detainee, who was later thrown from a moving truck, the newspaper reported.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said such behavior, if proved, would be "completely and totally unacceptable."

British troops are in charge of the Basra region in southeast Iraq.

The UK Ministry of Defence is under intense pressure after the photographs appeared in newspapers, and has warned the lives of British troops in Iraq may have been put at risk by their publication.

The United States is investigating similar allegations of abuse by members of the U.S. military.

President George W. Bush on Thursday apologised for the first time for the abuse saying that he is "sorry for the humiliation suffered" by Iraqi prisoners at the hands of U.S. troops in Iraq. (Full story)

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