Daoud Mousa says son's death in military custody came after claim British soldiers had looted hotel where Baha worked
Baha Mousa inquiry: father alleges 'revenge' by UK troops
Adam Gabbatt and agencies
Wednesday 23 September 2009
The father of an Iraqi hotel receptionist who died in British military custody has told a public inquiry his son may have been killed in a "revenge" attack.
Daoud Mousa is giving evidence at the inquiry into the killing of his son, Baha Mousa, six years ago. Baha, 26, died in September 2003 while being held by British soldiers on suspicion of being an insurgent.
Daoud said he had reported British soldiers for alleged looting after they raided the Ab al-Haitham hotel, where Baha worked, and feared this had caused his son to be "treated worse" than other detainees.
Daoud, who today rejected the apology of the only man convicted in connection with his son's killing, told the hearing he had driven to the Basra hotel on 14 September to collect Baha.
When he arrived, he found British military vehicles parked outside and a soldier standing guard.
Daoud said he had seen three or four British soldiers breaking into a safe at the hotel and removing money, which they stuffed into the pockets of their uniform and inside their shirts.
"I thought that it was a violation of English dignity and honour, and the honour of English troops," he told the inquiry.
Daoud reported the alleged thefts to a British officer. He told the inquiry he believed it was after this that British soldiers identified Baha as his son. He said Baha was lying face down on the floor of the hotel with a number of Iraqi men.
"I pointed to my son. The soldiers were standing by," said Daoud.
"I think they knew the one I was pointing to was my son. Therefore, they wanted revenge against me."
He added in his statement to the inquiry: "I believe that my son may have been treated worse than other people because I had made a complaint … that money was being stolen from the hotel safe.
"That is certainly the view that was reached by other men who were detained with Baha."
Daoud earlier told the hearing his son had hated Saddam Hussein and had been pleased when British troops arrived in Basra. He told the inquiry Saddam had forced him out of his job as a police major in the southern city of Basra.
"[Baha] hated Saddam because he was hearing that Saddam removed me from my employment," Daoud said.
"He was happy when the British troops came in."
Soldiers from the former Queen's Lancashire Regiment arrested Baha and the other detainees at Basra's Ibn al-Haitham hotel in the early hours of 14 September 2003 and took them to Battle Group Main camp, known as BG Main.
Once there, they were subjected to "conditioning techniques", including being forced to maintain painful "stress positions", hooding and deprivation of sleep and food, the inquiry has heard.
Baha died in the camp on 15 September 2003. He had sustained 93 separate injuries, including fractured ribs and a broken nose.
In July, at the start of the hearing, a video was played showing a British soldier forcing detainees, with their hands bound and wearing hoods, to maintain "stress positions".
On Monday, the inquiry was told British troops in Iraq used interrogation methods banned by the government in 1972.
In July last year, the MoD agreed to pay £2.83m in compensation to the families of Baha and nine other Iraqi men whom British troops had mistreated.
Giving his evidence to the public inquiry, Daoud dismissed the apology of Corporal David Payne, who in 2007 pleaded guilty at a court marshal to treating civilians inhumanely in relation to Baha Mousa's death. Four other soldiers accused of involvement were acquitted.
Michael Topolski QC addressed Daoud Mousa on Payne's behalf.
"I want you to understand very clearly, sir, that [Corporal Payne] regrets what he did. He apologises to you and your family for the death of your son. I hope that you will accept that from me," the lawyer said.
The dead man's father replied curtly, "I will not accept the apology of a criminal."
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