The British attorney general announced Tuesday that three British soldiers would be tried on war crimes charges for the abuse of Iraqi detainees, one of whom died.
The three were among 11 soldiers charged with mistreating prisoners in Basra in two incidents in May and September 2003. Basra is the headquarters of the 8,500 British troops still deployed as the closest allies of the United States.
The charges were said to be the first against British troops in Iraq on war crimes offenses, defined under the legislation approved here in 2001, committing Britain to joining the International Criminal Court.
The most serious charges were brought against a 34-year-old corporal, Donald Payne, accused of abusing and killing Baha Daoud Salim Musa, an Iraqi taken prisoner in a military operation in September 2003. Corporal Payne faces charges of manslaughter, inhumane treatment and perverting the course of justice, said the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith.
Two other soldiers, Lance Cpl. Wayne Crowcroft, 21, and Pvt. Darren Fallon, 22, are also accused of offenses including inhumane treatment of detainees. It was not immediately clear what sentence they could face. The charges will all be heard at military courts in Britain and not at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
In a separate charge announced Tuesday, four soldiers are accused of manslaughter in the death of another Iraqi detainee on May 8, 2003. The soldiers detained four Iraqis they believed were looters and forced them into a canal. One of the detainees, Ahmed Kareem, could not swim and drowned.