In Iraq, British soldiers kicked and punched hooded prisoners as they yelled out for mercy, a witness to an incident in which one Iraqi detainee was allegedly beaten to death was quoted as saying.
The serving British soldier, requesting anonymity, told Thursday's edition of The Sun he had been "sick to his stomach" after witnessing the beatings in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.
Earlier this month, Britain's defence ministry said it was investigating the death of an Iraqi prisoner while in British custody following reports that he had been beaten to death.
According to The Sun report, the dead man was among nine Iraqis held by the Queen's Lancashire Regiment on suspicion of being "bandits" last September, just a few weeks after the regiment lost one of its number to a roadside bomb.
The unnamed soldier said that when he visited the British base's cell block he saw the prisoners stretched out or kneeling with hoods over their heads.
"Some of the lads were just coming up, booting them in the stomach and punching them," he told the paper.
"The moans and groans were going on for ages. The prisoners were pleading: 'Please stop, please stop.'"
The beatings continued over two days, with a number of British troops shouting racist abuse at the prisoners - who were prevented from sleeping or lying down - as they kicked, punched and slapped them, the soldier added.
The soldier, who added that maltreatment of Iraqi prisoners was common practice, said he saw the dead prisoner after his hood had been pulled off.
"He had a big, swollen black eye, his nose was broken and it looked like his jaw had been dislocated. His face was bloody," the paper quoted him as saying.
"I feel sick to my stomach that I didn't do anything to save them, as I'm sure other people do," he said. "It's something we will have to live with." (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )