Soldier tells of mock forced sex
'Laughing as Iraqi looters made to perform simulated sex acts'
OSNABRUECK, Germany -- The British soldier who took pictures of Iraqi detainees being abused by troops described how captured looters were forced to simulate sex acts while laughing soldiers watched.
Fusilier Gary Bartlam was giving evidence at the court martial of three fellow British soldiers accused of abusing and sexually humiliating detainees caught in an operation to deter theft of aid supplies from a base near Basra in May 2003.
Describing a scene he witnessed after more than 20 suspected looters had been captured and brought into the base to tidy up the mess they caused by pillaging, Bartlam said two detainees had been taken to a warehouse in the base complex.
"Basically, there was one in front and one behind, with their thumbs up, pretending to do it," he said.
Asked by prosecuting officer Nick Clapham to define what he meant by "it," Bartlam said: "Well, buggery."
Speaking quietly in a thick Staffordshire accent which prompted defense lawyers to ask for clarification several times, Bartlam said the troops were in a light-hearted mood.
"People were laughing and bantering on at what's actually going on, thinking it was funny," he said.
Like a number of other soldiers on the scene, he said he had taken photographs as a memento, something he said he frequently did while in Iraq.
"Some of them (the soldiers) jumped down, moved them around, pretending to give a blow job," he said.
"They got them on their knees, ordered them like," he said, adding that the soldiers had gestured to the detainees what they were to do but stressing that no actual sex acts had occurred.
"It was just acting. None of these sexual acts actually took place," he said.
Corporal Daniel Kenyon and lance corporals Darren Larkin and Mark Cooley are charged with mistreating a group of detainees during the incident described by Bartlam. They deny the charges, although Larkin has pleaded guilty to one count of assault.
Bartlam was convicted on similar charges in a separate court martial earlier this month.
The case came to light after Bartlam took photographs of the incident to be developed at a photo shop in his home town of Tamworth in England and was reported to police by shop staff. The photographs were made public last week, sparking worldwide outrage.
The trial is the latest in a series of hearings into alleged abuses by soldiers in Iraq since photographs of U.S. troops humiliating Iraqi prisoners at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib jail emerged last year.
Bartlam earlier described how the looters were captured and driven back into camp by soldiers who forced them to run along carrying boxes of powdered milk they had looted.
"We tapped some of them, hitting them. Some of them were falling back, just tapping them on the back of the legs to keep them running," he said.
He said he had seen and photographed an Iraqi suspended on a forklift truck driven by Cooley but said that Kenyon had appeared to be angry and had admonished Cooley, who is charged with disgraceful conduct of a cruel kind.
He himself had been worried by the incident but had not complained, partly because he had only recently recovered from a broken jaw after an assault by another lance corporal.