London, Apr.6 : A Shia tribal leader and his family have claimed that they were hooded and beaten up by British soldiers based at Basra airport last year.
If proved, the allegations could prove highly damaging to the British armed forces and the Gordon Brown-led New Labor Government, as both have maintained that abuses by British soldiers were limited to 2003 and 2004.
In the new claims, which are being prepared for legal action in the UK courts, Jabbir Hmoud Kammash, 70, the leader of a sub-division of the Albu-Darraj tribe in southern Iraq, alleges that a group of 20 soldiers raided his home in Al-Gzaizah, Basra, in the early hours of the morning in April last year.
Kammash, a former Iraq national wrestling champion, is quoted by The Independent as saying that on the day of the raid, his family were celebrating the birth of his grandchild.
"There were over 20 soldiers. They broke into the house through the door and came down from the roof. My wife, daughters and their kids were all screaming in horror. I was very scared for their safety," Kammash said
Kammash says he, his two sons and three male house guests were hooded, handcuffed and then driven off to the British military base at Basra airport.Their money and computers were also taken during the raid and furniture destroyed.
He says that he was made to kneel and was rifle-butted. The situation was so grim that he almost suffocated, he adds.
Kammash says his head injury later required six stitches at a British military hospital. But he was not even spared and dragged out of the hospital for further interrogation.
The use of hoods, if proven, would be particularly damning. Their use was outlawed by the British government in 1972, but reintroduced in Iraq without any seeming official sanction. When it emerged that prisoners were being hooded in 2004, troops were told formally that the practice should cease.
These new claims will increase pressure on the Brown Government to hold an independent inquiry into the actions of British soldiers in the detention of Iraqi civilians from the beginning of the war right up to the present day.