ANOTHER HUMAN RIGHTS FIASCO!
Iraqi ‘caught red-handed with bomb’ wins £33,000 – because our soldiers kept him in custody for too long
TAXPAYERS face massive compensation bills after a suspected Iraqi insurgent won a human rights case against the Ministry of Defence yesterday. The High Court ruled he was held too long by British troops despite allegedly being found making a bomb.
Abd Al-Waheed was awarded £33,000 for a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. Three fellow Iraqis will receive tens of thousands of pounds in compensation.
The payouts dwarf the sums given to wounded British soldiers – suffering a fractured skull merits only £5,775 in compensation. A blast injury is worth £6,000 and multiple facial fractures just £15,500.
Colonel Richard Kemp, who led UK forces in Afghanistan, said: ‘Too often the courts decide the human rights of terrorist suspects are more important than the human rights of potential victims. It is insanity.’
Defence officials fear yesterday’s ruling could trigger big payouts to a further 630 Iraqis
suspected of killing or maiming British troops in the Iraq war. The final bill could run to tens of millions of pounds.
The case also raises the prospect of senior military figures being tried in the Hague. The four Iraqis were represented by Leigh Day, which has been involved in a number of controversial human rights cases.
In his judgment, Mr Justice Leggatt said the men came to the law firm via a Basra-based agent called Abu Jamal through word of mouth. The Mail has revealed that Jamal touted for business in the aftermath of the war.
Services police investigated allegations made by the four men but no personnel were interviewed or charged.
MPs and former military chiefs suggested the process was ‘ridiculous’.
‘The British public who pay for the military would never in a million years think this is fair or just,’ said Johnny Mercer, a Tory MP and former Army captain.
‘Soldiers should abide by the rule of law, as does everybody who served, but soldiers had to make difficult decisions in the heat of a chaotic war. The fact this should be rumbling on 14 years later is a disgrace.’
Mr Justice Leggatt announced his ruling after overseeing two High Court trials in which the Iraqis gave evidence in an English court.
Al-Waheed, Kamil Najim Alseran, and two men known only as MRE and KSU claimed they were unlawfully imprisoned and ill treated by British soldiers.
Their claims were among 967 lodged by Leigh Day, of which 331 claims have been settled and four discontinued or struck out. The remaining 632 are unresolved.
The MoD claimed the detention of the Iraqis was lawful under the Geneva convention because they could have presented a risk to security.
But the judge said it was wrong to detain suspects without evidence that they were combatants.
He ruled they had been unlawfully detained and mistreated, and were entitled to compensation under the Human Rights Act.
He added: ‘There is no assumption that these four cases are representative of others, but the conclusions reached on the legal issues and some of the factual issues raised are likely to affect many of the remaining cases.’
Al-Waheed was arrested in a house raid in Basra in February 2007. The three-times married father of eight says he was beaten with rifle butts before being tortured with ‘electric cutters’ during interrogation.
British soldiers insist they found him handling a roadside bomb in a property that contained mortars and plastic explosives.
The judgment handed down yesterday said Al-Waheed’s allegations of mistreatment were ‘greatly exaggerated’.
But it said there was evidence that showed he had been beaten on the back, punched and suffered a finger injury. He was awarded £15,000 in ‘respect of the beating’ he suffered after his arrest, and a further £15,000 for ill treatment.
Al-Waheed was also handed £3,300 for unlawful detention for 33 days. This is because it could not be proven he was a threat to security and should have been released after 96 hours.
Under the Geneva Convention, captives can be detained as long as it is justified as an ‘imperative’ for security. If they are not a threat, the European Convention on Human Rights, of which Britain is a signatory, comes into force.
It says detainees should not be held for longer than 96 hours. Alseran, who was captured at his home at the end of March 2003 during the advance on Basra by British forces, was awarded £10,000 for ill treatment following his capture, and £2,700 for 27 days of unlawful detention. The suspect MRE was awarded £28,140, including £600 for six days of unlawful imprisonment. KSU won £10,600 for being ‘hooded’ and detained too long.
Sapna Malik, a partner in the international claims team at Leigh Day, said: ‘It is vital those wronged by the UK Government, whether in this country or overseas, are able to seek justice and redress. Their ability to do so in our courts is not a witch-hunt but a testament to the strength of our democracy.’
Shubhaa Srinivasan, who represented MRE and KSU for Leigh Day, said: ‘The decision sends a clear message that no one, including the British Government, should be above the law.’ Last year the Mail revealed that Jamal was paid nearly £40,000 a year by the Ministry of Defence to help the families of suspected insurgents killed by British soldiers.
A grieving widow claimed that on top of his work for the MoD, he knocked on her door persuading her to claim compensation from the British Government.
Following the Mail’s revelations, he was taken off the Government payroll and dismissed from the job.
An MoD spokesman: ‘ Our military personnel served with great courage in Iraq, often working under extremely difficult circumstances. We note the court’s ruling that these four detainees were not treated as they should have been, and are studying the judgment.’
FFrom ththe MMail,il MMay 2121, 2016