An Iraqi hotel worker beaten to death by British soldiers screamed that he feared he would die while being tortured, the inquiry into his killing has heard.
Twenty-six-year-old Baha Mousa was arrested along with a number of other civilians by soldiers of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment in Basra in 2003.All those detained were subjected to brutal and vicious abuse from British troops and were kicked and beaten repeatedly and subjected to sensory deprivation techniques.
When Mr Mousa's body was released, he was found to have suffered 93 separate injuries after being tortured to death over a 36-hour period on the floor of a filthy toilet at a temporary holding facility.
In his opening address to the inquiry, Rabinder Singh QC, representing Mr Mousa's family, said: "Baha was a human being, yet to his guards he was known as 'fat boy' or 'fat bastard'."
Prior to the summer recess, the inquiry had seen graphic video footage of hooded and bound prisoners being beaten and abused by Corporal Donald Payne of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment.
It also heard of an abhorrent practice known as "the choir" in which detainees were beaten in turn to force them to emit sounds in a grotesque parody of a musical scale.
Mr Singh read out a harrowing statement from one of the other detainees, D002, who described what were probably Mr Mousa's last moments.
"During the evening of the second day, I heard Baha Mousa screaming: 'Oh my God, I'm going to die, I'm going to die. Leave me alone. Please leave me alone for five minutes'," the witness recalled.
The use of hooding and other torture techniques were banned under the Geneva Convention and outlawed by the Heath government in 1972 following the use of sensory deprivation techniques during internment in Northern Ireland.However, Mr Singh queried on Monday whether in fact the use of such techniques had ever ceased.
He said: "In 2003, the so-called 'conditioning' techniques were used in Iraq on civilians in the name of the people of Britain. Stress positions, hooding, sleep deprivation, food deprivation and noise all came back. Perhaps they never went away."
Mr Singh pointed out that none of those detained had been charged with any offence.
"This was not on any view the sort of 'ticking-bomb' scenario that apologists for torture usually imagine," he stated.
"There is a path which leads from such clinical musings in ivory towers to a man dying in a filthy latrine in Iraq."
He added: "It is important not to fall into the trap of thinking that this case was simply one of indiscipline. This case is not just about beatings or a few bad apples. There is something rotten in the whole barrel."
Solicitor for the detainees Phil Shiner said the responsibility for Mr Mousa's death rested at the highest level.
He said the inquiry must establish "how it came about that senior politicians, civil servants, lawyers and senior military personnel knew - or ought to have known - that British soldiers and interrogators were using coercive interrogation techniques in Iraq and thought these were permittable and lawful."
Mr Mousa's father, a colonel in the Iraqi police, is due to give evidence to the inquiry on Wednesday.Source: Morning Star