Mar 27, 2008 15:30 EST
The British military admitted Thursday that some of its troops breached the human rights of an Iraqi man who died in custody and of eight other detained Iraqis.
The nine were taken into custody as suspected insurgents, then were held in stress positions and deprived of sleep for about two days in extreme heat at a British army barracks near the southern Iraqi city of Basra in September 2003, prosecutors told a British military court.
Mousa, a 26-year-old hotel receptionist, died from asphyxia after soldiers restrained him following an escape attempt.
One soldier, Cpl. Donald Payne, 35, was convicted of inhumane treatment in that case, making him the first British soldier to plead guilty to a war crime under international law.
In a statement that apologized for the abuses, Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth stressed that nearly all of the 120,000 British soldiers who have served in Iraq behaved properly.
"But this does not excuse that during 2003 and 2004 a very small minority committed acts of abuse and we condemn their actions," Ainsworth said.
Britain's highest court, the House of Lords, ruled in June that prisoners held by British troops are protected by European human rights law.
In Mousa's case, the Ministry of Defense admitted "a substantive breach" of a provision in the European Convention on Human Rights that recognizes the right to life and another that prohibits torture. It said the torture ban was violated for the eight other detainees.
"The Ministry of Defense further accepts that the admitted substantive breaches of the convention give rise to claims for compensation," it said.