Iraqi President Jalal Talabani condemned the alleged abuse by British soldiers of Iraqi youths that was caught on film in 2004, describing it as “unjustified”, his spokesman said today.
“This act is rejected and not accepted whether it came from the coalition forces, who the president is much obliged to for what they did for the Iraqi people (following the 2003 invasion), or from another side,” Talabani spokesman Kameran Garadaghi said.
“But the good thing is that the British authorities condemned and are investigating it,” Garadaghi said.
Talabani’s criticism came as the British Ministry of Defence announced one man had been arrested over the video that appeared to show soldiers dragging several young Iraqis into a compound and beating them with fists and batons following a street demonstration.
An Associated Press photographer who witnessed the demonstration said it took place in the Maysan provincial city of Amarah, 180 miles southeast of Baghdad.
Maysan provincial Gov Adel Mahudar confirmed the demonstration took place near his offices.
“I demand the Iraqi government put an end to these violations against Iraqis and I will meet those youths with their families and ask them if they want to prosecute the British troops,” Mahudar said.
The video was first reported yesterday by the tabloid News of the World, which said an unidentified whistleblower provided the tape that was filmed in southern Iraq by a corporal two years ago. It did not name the soldier or the unit involved.
The Ministry of Defence declined to identify the man who was arrested last night.
Photos of US troops tormenting and humiliating prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad in 2003 caused worldwide revulsion, and there have also been allegations of abuse by British troops.
The News of the World said it had made exhaustive checks to confirm the authenticity of the video, which it said was passed on by a whistle-blower whom the newspaper refused to identify.
“The images in this video amount to very serious allegations. We can confirm they are now the subject of an urgent Royal Military Police investigation. They are disturbing images,” said Brig. Martin Routledge, the adjutant general’s chief of staff, in a statement.
“We condemn all acts of abuse and brutality and always treat any allegations of wrongdoing by our personnel extremely seriously. The Army always initiates a Royal Military Police investigation whenever serious allegations of wrongdoing are made. This fulfils the Army’s obligation always to uphold the rule of law.”