ARMY officers will be hauled in front of a court martial hearing today over allegations that they smeared faeces into the faces of trainee soldiers.
Seventeen sergeants and corporals will face the hearing into the alleged abuse of teenage recruits at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.
They are accused of forcing animal faeces into the mouths of 17-year-olds, holding their heads under water and repeatedly beating them.
The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) warned that the allegations may be “the tip of the iceberg” and exposed the abusive culture of Britain’s armed forces.
PPU co-ordinator Symon Hill said the allegations called into question Britain’s armed forces recruitment policy — Britain is one of the few countries still recruiting under-18s.
And he blasted a process that allowed the army to conduct a trial over its own actions, calling for greater transparency and public scrutiny.
He said: “Why is the army allowed to conduct its own trials? If a manager at Tesco were accused of abusing a teenage member of staff, noone would expect him to be tried by a jury consisting entirely of Tesco managers.
“The army is effectively allowed to operate outside the law. It urgently needs to be opened to public scrutiny.”
Former soldier Wayne Shorrocks said the allegations are similar to his experiences during his training on joining the army in 2006 at the age of 17.
He said: “We were often told by instructors to turn around and look away while questionable things were taking place.
“Military training exists to mentally and physically condition you to follow orders without question and to remove your natural aversion to killing.”
The two-day hearing is expected to be the first phase of a longer trial process.