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Doubts over UK 'abuse' pictures


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IF the pictures were faked, someone should be imprisoned and editors should be fired! If they are in fact genuine, the soldiers should be prosecuted.

Doubts over UK 'abuse' pictures

Monday, May 3, 2004 Posted: 12:46 AM EDT (0446 GMT)

(CNN) -- Controversy is growing over the authenticity of photographs that allegedly show British troops mistreating an Iraqi prisoner.

Some British military officials have cast doubt on the pictures -- first published in the Daily Mirror newspaper -- saying the clothing and equipment pictured is not currently troop issue.

Rival newspaper The Sun ran a story on Monday quoting military experts saying the photographs were "staged" fakes.

The experts quoted said the rifle and clothing pictured were not equipment currently issued to British troops serving in Iraq, and cited a list of inconsistencies with the pictures.

The Mirror's pictures, which it said came from two soldiers in the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, showed soldiers apparently kicking, stamping and urinating on a hooded Iraqi.

It said they were taken during an eight-hour beating in Basra, southern Iraq, where Britain has around 7,500 troops.

The Daily Mirror is standing by the story and on Monday published more detailed reports of alleged abuse.

"Despite the whispering campaign and dodgy briefings that went on yesterday, the Daily Mirror has no doubt that the allegations made by the two soldiers who came to us were true," the newspaper said in an editorial on Monday.

But the newspaper seemingly acknowledged that the apparent inconsistencies could not be easily explained.

"The two squaddies (British soldiers) admit they cannot answer questions regarding minor details in the photos which were taken months ago," said the newspaper.

The Mirror said one of the unnamed soldiers who went to the paper with the allegations of abuse said he knew of colleagues who had boasted of what would be classed as war crimes.

"Some lads were telling of how they made an Iraqi swim across a river and were taking pot shots at him," the soldier was quoted as saying.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says an investigation into the matter is ongoing.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair also condemned the alleged abuse, but stressed it did not reflect the conduct of the vast majority of coalition troops.

"This is not representative of the 150,000 soldiers that are in Iraq," Blair's official spokesman said.

Eight cases of alleged mistreatment by British personnel were being investigated, he confirmed.

American television network CBS has also aired photos of U.S. soldiers apparently engaged in a wide range of abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad.

CNN has not verified the authenticity of those images.

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff has denied reports of widespread and systematic abuse of inmates at Abu Ghraib.


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