Thursday, February 15, 2007

Perfidious Albion

Ah, la perfide Angleterre.

The NYT reports: -

British Court-Martial Drops Charges in Iraq Abuse Case

A court-martial on Wednesday dropped charges against four of seven soldiers accused of mistreating Iraqi civilians, an unexpected twist in a politically charged trial that jeopardized the reputation of the British military. It also dropped the remaining charges against a fifth soldier who had already pleaded guilty.

...The court-martial revolves around events in Basra, in southern Iraq, during a period of high tension in September 2003, when, prosecutors said, nine Iraqi detainees were hooded, handcuffed, deprived of sleep and beaten for a 36-hour period before interrogation. One of the nine Iraqi men, a hotel receptionist named Baha Musa, died of multiple injuries in a British Army barracks.

But on Wednesday, Judge Stuart McKinnon ruled that prosecutors had produced insufficient evidence to bring charges against four of the seven men, as well as two additional charges against Corporal Payne. The judge said he made his decision in part because the Iraqi civilians were hooded and could not physically identify the soldiers who beat them.

...Some opposition politicians said the judge’s action showed that the government had been overzealous in seeking to appease Iraqi public opinion by putting a high-ranking officer on trial.

“A whiff of political correctness hangs heavy over the case against Colonel Mendonca, with law officers determined to have military officers prosecuted,” said Liam Fox, the opposition Conservative Party’s spokesman on defense issues. “There is no doubt that episodes like this have caused deep resentment and a loss of confidence across the British Army.”

Why am I upset?

Which country has been so damnable persistent in pursuing Israeli soldiers if not England!

Read on:

Britain's top law officer is considering whether there's sufficient evidence to bring war crimes charges against Israeli soldiers who killed two Britons. Inquests in London this year found the two men were killed unlawfully. In the case of one - James Miller - the soldier who shot him has never been punished. Britain's Attorney General last week visited Israel to investigate possible prosecutions, as Europe correspondent Jane Hutcheon reports.

In early 2003, two British civilians were killed in Gaza. Peace activist Tom Hurndall was shot as the Israeli army demolished homes near the Egyptian border. The soldier responsible for his death reacted angrily to a manslaughter conviction and eight years in jail. Weeks later, award-winning cameraman James Miller was shot as he and his crew left the house where they'd been filming. A British inquest said both deaths had been unlawful and in the case of James Miller, the verdict was murder.

A bit duplicitous, no?

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