Britain failed to investigate Iraq deaths: European Court

7th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

A European court ordered Thursday Britain to pay tens of thousands of euros to the relatives of Iraqi civilians killed during its 2003 occupation.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) made the ruling after concluding that Britain failed to conduct "independent and effective" investigations into the deaths of five Iraqis killed in Basra.

British soldiers were in charge of security in the south east of Iraq after ousting the Baath regime and before an interim government took office.

"In those exceptional circumstances, a jurisdictional link existed between the United Kingdom and individuals killed in the course of security operations carried out by British soldiers during the period May 2003 to June 2004," the ruling said.

"Since the applicants relatives were killed in the course of United Kingdom security operations during that period, the United Kingdom was required to carry out an investigation into their deaths."

The relatives of six Iraqi victims brought their case to the ECHR in December 2007 after British authorities found the country did not have jurisdiction over the deaths, the ECHR said.

In three of the cases the victims were shot by British soldiers and one, an Iraqi mother, was shot during an exchange of fire between a British patrol and unknown gunmen.

A 15-year-old boy was beaten by British soldiers and then forced into a river, where he drowned, and one victim died at a British military base, with 93 injuries identified on his body.

In the last case, that of 26-year-old Baha Mousa, "a full public inquiry" by British authorities was nearing completion, the ECHR said.

The court said in its ruling issued Thursday "that there had been a failure to conduct an independent and effective investigation into the deaths of the relatives of five of the six applicants, in violation of Article 2 (right to life) of the Convention."

Britain was ordered to pay the relatives 17,000 euros ($24,000) each in addition to a 50,000 joint sum to cover costs and expenses.

In a separate case, the court ordered Britain to pay a total of 65,000 euros to an Iraqi man detained by forces in Basra from 2004-2007 after ruling a breach of his liberty and security had occured.

© 2011 AFP

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