UK inquiry opens into 2004 Iraqi deaths

UK inquiry opens into 2004 Iraqi deaths

PanARMENIAN.Net - A public inquiry will open later in London into allegations that up to 20 Iraqis were murdered after a gun battle with British troops in 2004, BBC News reported.

The inquiry, named after one of the dead men, Hamid al-Sweady, will also examine claims that detainees captured at the same time were mistreated.

A retired judge will hear some of the most serious accusations against UK troops to arise from the Iraq war.

The Ministry of Defense says it has seen no evidence to support the case.

The Al-Sweady inquiry is the second public inquiry into allegations of abuse by British troops in Iraq, following one that examined the death of Baha Mousa in 2003, and has been described as "unprecedented" in its scope.

At issue is what happened following a fierce firefight in May 2004, after British soldiers were ambushed close to the southern town of Majar al-Kabir.

Three years have now passed between the setting up of the inquiry and its opening as staff, including retired detectives, have trawled through as many as 12,000 documents.

It has already cost £15m, and that figure is expected to double, with as many as 200 military witnesses likely to be called, and 45 Iraqis expected to give evidence by video-link from Beirut, including medical staff and ambulance drivers.

Fifteen Iraqi witnesses are due to give evidence in person, among them the nine detainees and family members of the dead.

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