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[casi] FW: Senior army offices faces war crime inquiry/ UK;jsessionid=Q5N540UGARX32CRBAELCFFA?type=topNews&storyID=297556

21 May 2003

Senior army offices faces war crime inquiry

By Sinead O'Hanlon
LONDON (Reuters) - A senior British Army officer
hailed for his inspirational leadership during the
Iraq war is being formally investigated over alleged
war crimes, the Ministry of Defence says.

Lieutenant Colonel Tim Collins, who headed the
600-strong 1 Royal Irish Regiment in southern Iraq,
has been accused of breaching the Geneva Conventions
through ill-treatment of prisoners of war.

"We can confirm that an investigation is being
conducted into allegations that have been made against
an officer who served in Iraq," a ministry spokesman
said on Wednesday.

"We cannot comment further because of the risk of
compromising the allegations."

The ministry would not name the officer but a defence
source confirmed to Reuters that it was Collins, who
has returned from Iraq to Britain.

The origin of the complaints is not known and the
ministry spokesman refused to say what they entailed.

But newspapers reported he was being accused of
punching, kicking and threatening Iraqi prisoners of
war and pistol-whipping one Iraqi civic leader.

Collins could not immediately be reached for comment
but the Sun said he denied the allegations.

The cigar-chomping, sunglass wearing soldier was
widely praised for an inspirational speech made on the
eve of battle in which he exhorted his troops to be
ferocious in battle but magnanimous in victory.

A copy of his speech was reportedly tacked to the wall
of President George W. Bush's office while Prince
Charles wrote to him to praise his "stirring,
civilised and humane" words.

The Ministry of Defence said it would not release any
details of the investigation, which was expected to
include the questioning of witnesses in Britain and
Iraq, until it was completed.

Last week, human rights group Amnesty International
said it had received about 20 complaints from Iraqi
civilians and soldiers accusing British and American
troops of torture.

The group said it was still collecting witness
statements and had not corroborated reports of
beatings and electric shock treatment or raised the
matter with the authorities.

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