Spanish troops ‘knew nothing of torture’
13 May 2004
MADRID – Defence minister José Bono said Thursday Spanish troops in Iraq had no knowledge of the torture of prisoners allegedly carried out at a medical centre where they were stationed.
Some prisoners were allegedly abused on a military medical mission based in the Iraqi port of Um Qasar, it was reported in the Spanish daily El Mundo Thursday.
But in an interview with Spanish radio station Cadena Ser Thursday, Bono denied prisoners were tortured “in the presence” or “with the knowledge” of Spanish officers.
He said he had ordered the head of the Spanish military, admiral Antonio Moreno Barberá, to open an investigation into the claims.
Bono has also said the US Pentagon report revealed the torturing of prisoners took place in May 2003 at Camp Bocca, a prison camp whose medical control was administered by Spanish military medics.
Bono said that in March 2003 Spain sent a group to the medical ship ‘Galicia’ which was commanded by Admiral Juan Antonio Moreno Sussana.
The troops stayed four months in the port of Um Qasar.
They were deployed at times at Camp Bucca, a prison camp run by US troops.
Bono said: “There they attended to many people, some of whom had injuries. Some of these were brought back to the ship, but under the custody and under the authority of the Americans.”
Bono said according to a report by Moreno Sussana, at the end of the mission there was no knowledge of any torture because if they had known anything “they would have said something about it”.
He added that the head of the military has orders to investigate if there was any knowledge of any wrong-doing and to inform him.
A group of 144 Spanish soldiers are expected to arrive home Friday from Iraq at a base in Almeria in south-east Spain.
It is part the withdrawal of the Spanish contingent from the country which could be complete by 17 May.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news