Britain has for the past week been debating the authenticity of pictures allegedly showing UK soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners. The government said Thursday the photos are fakes.
British soldiers have been accused of abusing Iraqi prisoners
The pictures of British soldiers allegedly abusing Iraqi prisoners in the back of a van were first published in the tabloid Daily Mirror on Friday. Soon after, the British government began questioning -- and investigating -- their authenticity. While the Mirror stood by its story, the Secretary of State for the Army, Adam Ingram, told parliament Thursday that the photos were definitely not genuine.
"These pictures were categorically not taken in Iraq. Moreover, I can also tell the House (of Commons) that this is not only the opinion of the (Special Investigation Branch) investigators: It has been independently corroborated. The truck, in which the photographs were taken, was never in Iraq."
The minister’s statement must have been a great relief to the soldiers of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment. They were accused of systematic abuse of Iraqi prisoners. But they’re not yet out of the woods. A commission is examining a number of individual cases of abuse.
The Daily Mirror says the images are genuine.
Ingram also referred in his statement to a report by the International Committee of the Red Cross about abuses in Iraq. He has been accused of sitting on the report since December, which he has denied. The report was handed to the relevant authority in the government, he said, and the government had reacted as soon as it was made aware of the accusations.
The rather vague statement sounded like an apology. Ingram admitted on Monday that he hadn’t seen the Red Cross report. Since then he has said that he hadn’t seen one of the cases referred to in it. He has also been trying to downplay a report by human rights organization Amnesty International which said an Iraqi prisoner had been beaten to death. Amnesty had no access to the prisons, Ingram said.
Following the secretary of state's comments on the photos, it’s now one man’s word against another’s. Piers Morgan, the editor of Daily Mirror, insists that his paper got it right. Now a commission will look into individual cases, and in time, the truth may come to light.
Even so, question remain unanswered. Who’s behind the pictures? And even if they are fakes, have British soldiers mistreated Iraqi prisoners?