A UK taxpayer funded inquiry has denied allegations that British soldiers murdered and ill-treated Iraqi detainees following the Battle of Danny Boy near Al Amarah in southern Iraq in May 2004.
Led by former High Court judge Sir Thayne Forbes, the five-year, £31m Al-Sweady Inquiry report conclusively proves all murder and torture claims were ‘deliberate and calculated lies,’ and that all of the 28 insurgents were killed in fighting with the UK forces.
The report found soldiers guilty of mistreating nine Iraqi detainees including blindfolding and sleep deprivation, in breach of Geneva Convention and the UK Ministry of Defence rules, but noted the behaviour did not amount to deliberate ill-treatment.
Acting on behalf of several Iraqi families, Public Interest Lawyers and Leigh Day solicitors alleged the UK troops took some Iraqis from the battlefield and murdered them at Camp Abu Naji and Shaibah Logistics Base, after a fierce battle near the Danny Boy checkpoint on the night of 14 May.
Some of the surviving insurgents from Mahdi Army claimed they were tortured and abused, while a 19-year old Iraqi student Hamid-al-Sweady, after whom the report is named, was brutally murdered.
According to the report, nearly 20 of the Iraqi dead were taken back to a UK base to confirm whether they included a suspect in the murders of six Royal Military Policemen in Majar-al-Kabir in June 2003, leading to allegations they were murdered after being captured alive.
UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "This is unsurprising as we have long said there was no credible evidence to back up these claims.
"Whilst the vast majority of the accusations against the British military were wholly and entirely without merit and the Army’s use of force was entirely appropriate, there were some instances of ill-treatment.
"However I am satisfied that those incidents would not occur today thanks to changes made since 2004, including as a result of the Baha Mousa Inquiry."
General Sir Nicholas Carter UK Chief of General Staff said: "This report will be a huge relief to the soldiers and their families who have been affected.
"It shows that the soldiers involved in this engagement acted with exemplary courage, resolution and professionalism."
Public Interest Lawyers said in a statement: "The findings of the report have helped to resolve for the families of the deceased what happened to their loved ones, to review the manner in which the Iraqi prisoners were treated, and as importantly to establish protective measures for the treatment of future detainees through recommendations."
The 1,350-page report also made nine recommendations, including the implementation of a shooting incident policy and the need for better arrest records for detainees, to help improve conduct of UK soldiers in operations.
Image: UK troops were accused of murdering and ill-treating Iraqi detainees following the Battle of Danny Boy in southern Iraq in May 2004. Photo: courtesy of Crown copyright.