British legal chief calls for Iraq torture methods probe


London : The British government's senior legal adviser has called for an inquiry into how illegal torture techniques came to be used by British soldiers in Iraq.

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Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith said it was a matter of "grave concern" that techniques such as sleep deprivation, hooding and stress positions were deployed against suspects held by British forces.

He told MPs and peers in a hearing of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights: "These techniques were outlawed on a cross-party basis in 1972."

"We have to seek why anyone thought these were permissible techniques. I think there needs to be an inquiry."

"I certainly agree that there is a matter of grave concern as to how these techniques came to be used, who authorised them and on what basis."

He added: "I can't believe that anybody high up in the army needed to be told in any event that our obligations under the Geneva Conventions and criminal law did not permit the treatment of detainees in any way that was degrading or inhuman contrary to Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention (on Human Rights)."

Lord Goldsmith told the parliamentary committee that he was only aware such interrogation techniques were being used after an Iraqi man, Baha Musa, died in British custody.

Musa, 26, a hotel receptionist, had been detained under suspicion of being an insurgent. He died in Basra in September 2003. Seven British soldiers faced the most expensive court martial in British history, but all were eventually acquitted.

The case took more than three years of investigation and cost more than 20 million pounds.