FOUR Iraqi citizens have won tens of thousands of pounds in damages after they were subjected to degrading abuse at the hands of British soldiers during the Iraq war.
High Court judge Mr Justice Leggatt ruled on Thursday that the Ministry of Defence had breached the Geneva conventions and the Human Rights Act over its ill-treatment and unlawful detention of civilians.
The degrading treatment included soldiers taking turns running over the backs of detained civilians and hooding them.
Lawyers said yesterday’s ruling could set a precedent for hundreds of abuse claims of Iraqis during the war.
There are more than 600 unresolved claims in what is known as the Iraqi Civilian Litigation.
Mr Leggatt announced his conclusions after overseeing two High Court trials during which Iraqi citizens gave evidence in an English courtroom for the first time.
The judge himself conceded that “some of the factual issues raised are likely to affect many of the remaining cases in the litigation.”
In his judgment, he made clear that “none of the claimants was engaged in terrorist activities or posed any threat to the security of Iraq.”
Human rights law firm Leigh Day, which represented two of the claimants, praised the ruling.
Leigh Day international claims team partner Sapna Malik said: “These trials took place against an onslaught of political, military and media slurs of Iraqis bringing spurious claims, and strident criticism of us, as lawyers, representing them.
“Yet we have just witnessed the rule of law in action. Our clients are grateful that the judge approached their claims without any preconception or presumption that allegations of misconduct by British soldiers are inherently unlikely to be true."
Abd Al-Waheed, who was arrested in a house raid carried out by British soldiers in Basra city in February 2007, was awarded the largest sum — a total of £33,300.
He was awarded £15,000 in “respect of the beating” he suffered after his arrest and £15,000 for further abuse including “being deprived of sleep and being deprived of sight and hearing,” the judge said.
Mr Al-Waheed was awarded a further £3,300 for unlawful detention for 33 days.
An MoD spokesman added: “We note the court's ruling that these four detainees were not treated as they should have been, and are studying the judgment.”
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