Baha Mousa inquiry: General questioned over “hooding”

The Indipendent reports that a senior Army officer testified during an inquiry investigating the Baha Mousa case that he was unaware that troops under his command wrongly believed hooding Iraqi prisoners was standard operating procedure.

In April 2003, Major General Robin Brims, later promoted to Lieutenant General, outlawed the hooding of detainees throughout 1st (UK) Armoured Division, then serving in Iraq.  But asked if he was aware that some soldiers had been routinely hooding prisoners at the point of capture, Lt Gen said: “I did not see it.”

The Lt Gen insisted that he had not seen a standard operational procedure telling soldiers to use hoods at the point of capture. The Lt Gen told the inquiry he gave an oral order to ban hooding after becoming concerned after witnessing a detainee at the Umm Qasr prisoner of war handling centre being moved while wearing a sandbag hood. However, since at that time he didn’t know that was the practice, he didn’t feel like putting the order in writing.

Gerard Elias QC, counsel for the inquiry, asked Lt Gen Brims whether questions surrounding the legality of hooding should have been raised at government level or with the Attorney General to get a “definitive view to what the law was”.

Lt Gen Brims replied: “It was being discussed, I didn’t need to raise it because it was being discussed by legal, because I was told what the legal adviser at various levels was saying and I was aware that the legal debate was going on at the higher level.”

Ex-armed forces minister Adam Ingram admitted last week that he was “not accurate” when he told an MP in June 2004 that hooding was only used for security reasons while suspects were being transported.

The use of hooding was banned throughout 1st (UK) Armoured Division in early April 2003, the inquiry heard. But shortly after this, representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) expressed concerns about the treatment of prisoners of war on a visit to a British internment camp in Umm Qasr, southern Iraq

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