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British soldiers charged with war crimes -

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British soldiers charged with war crimes

Reporter: Tom Iggulden

TONY JONES: Three British soldiers who served in Iraq have become the first to be charged with war
crimes. This follows an investigation into the killing of an Iraqi civilian in Basra in 2003. The
soldiers have been charged under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court but they've
escaped trial in The Hague and will instead face court in Britain.

Tom Iggulden has the details.

TOM IGGULDEN: September 2003 and Iraq is in chaos. Amid the violence, British soldiers operating in
Basra detain suspected insurgents. It was an operation that would lead to two corporals and a
private from the Queen's Lancashire Regiment being charged under international law with war crimes
after this man, Baha Da'oud Salim Musa, was allegedly being beaten to death in British custody.
Seven of the regiment's soldiers, including the three accused of war crimes, have also been charged
under British military law with crimes including manslaughter and assault. One of those charged is
Colonel Jorge Mendonca, the regiment's commanding officer, who was the first to investigate the
incident.

Britain joined the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2001 as part of then Foreign Secretary
Robin Cook's "ethical foreign policy." He later resigned in protest over the Iraq war.

ROBIN COOK, FORMER BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY, MARCH 18, 2003: Iraq probably has no weapons of mass
destruction in the commonly understood sense of the term.

TOM IGGULDEN: The decision took place over the objections of senior British military figures, but
Cook assured them the change would have no impact on British soldiers. Times have changed since the
Abu Ghraib scandal.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We apologise deeply to anyone who has been mistreated by any of
our soldiers. That is absolutely and totally unacceptable.

TOM IGGULDEN: Like Britain, Australian soldiers are covered by the ICC, US forces are not. Earlier
this evening, the British regiment at the centre of the allegations issued a statement saying in
part:

BRIGADIER GEOFFREY SHELDON: "From the moment that Mr Baha Musa lost his life while in our custody,
the Regiment has made clear that this was an isolated tragic incident, which should never have
happened and which I and every member of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment bitterly regrets."

TOM IGGULDEN: The statement went on:

BRIGADIER GEOFFREY SHELDON: "..it must not be forgotten that Basra in September 2003 was in
intensely dangerous and violently difficult city suffering from rampant unrest, economic
devastation and administrative chaos."

TOM IGGULDEN: The charges come on the same day a London-based group called Iraq Body Count released
its first report into Iraqi civilian deaths during the conflict. Collating and corroborating media
reports, the group says 25,000 Iraqis have died.

PROFESSOR JOHN SLOBODA, REPORT CO-AUTHOR: We decided that we wanted to record the most horrific
cost of any war, which is the cost in innocent lives. And we were fearful there would be many lives
lost and we were also fearful that the governments prosecuting this war would not be doing an
official count themselves.

TOM IGGULDEN: US forces killed a third of the 25,000, with what the report calls 'criminals'
responsible for another third. Less than 10 per cent were killed by insurgents, a finding disputed
by the Iraqi Government.