British PM appalled by Iraq abuse photos


Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Saturday abuse of Iraqi prisoners was "completely and totally unacceptable" after pictures were published showing British soldiers apparently urinating on a shackled detainee.

Britain launched an inquiry after the Daily Mirror newspaper published five black and white photographs of British troops it said were kicking, stamping and urinating on a hooded Iraqi in Basra, southern Iraq, where Britain has around 7,500 soldiers.

The images were published only days after pictures of American troops sexually abusing Iraqi prisoners provoked anger and dismay around the world.

"Let me make it quite clear that if these things have actually been done, they are completely and totally
unacceptable. We went to Iraq to get rid of that sort of thing, not to do it," Mr Blair told BBC television.

"I think in fairness however, we should say that there are thousands of British troops in Iraq doing a very brave, extraordinary job on behalf of the Iraqi people and on behalf of our country to make the country better."

Britain's top General, Sir Mike Jackson, ordered an inquiry.

"If proven, not only is such appalling conduct clearly unlawful, it clearly contravenes the British army's high standards," he said. "If proven the perpetrators are not fit to wear the queen's uniform. They have besmirched the good name of the army and its honour."

Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram called the pictures "truly appalling and despicable" if genuine.

The Daily Mirror said it obtained the photographs from two unnamed soldiers in the Queen's Lancashire Regiment. The soldiers said the Iraqi man in the pictures had been detained on suspicion of stealing.