British Prime Minister Tony Blair has spoken of his disgust at what is being described as Britain’s Abu Ghraib – as three soldiers go on trial for abusing Iraqi prisoners. Corporal Daniel Kenyon and Lance Corporals Mark Colley and Darren Larkin are facing charges at a court martial in Germany. 30-year-old Larkin has pleaded guilty to one count of assault. Kenyon and Colley deny all charges.
Photos of the alleged abuses, taken just weeks after Saddam Hussein’s downfall nearly two years ago, are making the headlines across the globe. Blair insisted these types of cases were limited and the perpetrators would be brought to justice: “The difference between democracy and tyranny is not that in a democracy bad things don’t happen. But in a democracy when they do happen, people are held and brought to account. That is what is happening under our judicial system.” The alleged offences are said to have taken place at an aid camp in Basra, in the south of the country. The prisoners had been detained for looting. Larkin’s lawyer claimed his client was simply following orders to ‘work them hard’. Baghdad residents are outraged: “We reject these images. We are Iraqis, so how can we see images showing our people being tortured like that? No one would ever accept this anywhere in the world. We were hurt when we saw these images on television.” The trial, which has been likened to the Abu Ghraib scandal where American soldiers abused Iraqi prisoners, is expected to last for several weeks.