British military intelligence ran secret 'torture unit' in Iraq

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London, Mar. 21 (ANI): The British military intelligence ran a secret "torture unit" in Iraq that employed banned and illegal torture techniques on prisoners, new documents have revealed.

The latest documents, which emerged during the inquiry into Baha Mousa an Iraqi hotel worker, beaten to death while in the custody of British troops in September 2003, revealed that officers running the operation claimed to be answerable only "directly to London".

It also emerged that prisoners were kept hooded for long periods in intense heat and deprived of sleep by defence intelligence officers, The Independent reports.

The inquiry is looking into how interrogation techniques banned by the British Government in 1972 were used again in Iraq by an intelligence unit, the Joint Forward Interrogation Team (JFIT).

In a statement to the inquiry, Colonel Christopher Vernon said that when he raised concerns after seeing 30 to 40 prisoners in a kneeling position with sacks over their heads, he was told that hooding was "accepted practice" and would continue.

"They reiterated the point they were an independent unit and did not come under the command of the GOC1 (UK) Armed Div (the Iraq command)," he said.

In a second statement, British Army legal adviser Colonel David Frend said: "My recollection is that he said that they - ie those at JFIT - had been trained to hood. My understanding from the conversation was simply the use of hessian sandbags as hoods were something that had been taught to members of the JFIT at some point prior to deployment."

In a further email disclosed by the inquiry this week, Major Gavin Davies, a member of the Army's legal team, wrote that he was told that hooding is only until "high value" prisoners can be interviewed, and the length of hooding can last from an hour to 24 hours.

This is the first time that evidence to support torture claims against the British military has emerged.

There are now 47 claims of abuse lodged against the Government. (ANI)

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