2000-2009 | Iraq | Torture

Iraq taxi driver dies in custody – his body covered with torture marks

British troops – regiment unknown – boarding a Sea King helicopter at Basra airport. Crown Copyright 2006 – MOD.

8 May 2003

On 8 May 2003, soldiers of the Black Watch regiment, searching for a suspect looter with convictions for murder and rape, raided a house in Basra. They were frustrated to find only his father, taxi driver Radhi Nama, along with his two daughters and three grandchildren. According to his daughter Afif, when Nama explained that his son was not at home, one of the soldiers punched him so hard that he collapsed on the floor. Nama was then hooded and cuffed and pushed into the back of an armoured vehicle.

The Black Watch took him to Camp Steven, which was being used as an unofficial detention facility and was later described by the Sunday Times as Britain’s Abu Ghaib. A soldier from another regiment at the camp later testified that he had seen Nama forced into a stress position in ‘the cage,’ an eight metre area of sand, covered by camouflage netting, where prisoners were routinely ‘made to talk,’ adding that ‘screams and the dull thuds of beatings were heard coming from that corner of the camp.’1

Just two hours after his arrival, Nama was dead. However his family was not informed of his death for another 48 hours when a letter arrived falsely stating that Nama had been taken to hospital after a heart attack and suggesting that the family visit him there. Detectives of The Iraq Historical Allegations Team (IHAT), which was set up in 2010 to investigate alleged war crimes in Iraq, considered the letter suspicious. One asked ‘Why would you go to the family and tell the family that their father was in hospital, when he wasn’t ? He had already died at the hands of the Black Watch.’2

His family eventually found Nama in the morgue, his body disfigured by extensive signs of brutal torture, including wounds on his legs, multiple head bruises and even the imprint of a boot on his chest. There had been no post-mortem and an investigation by the Royal Military Police (RMP) had advised that no further action was necessary. When the IHAT finally reviewed the RMP’s investigation, they concluded that it was shockingly inadequate. Based on the RMP’s own photographs, one detective commented

‘There were injuries all over his face, his face was filthy, full of dirt. He had marks on his forehead, he had marks around his eyes, down the side of his face. If a guy’s just fallen over and died of a heart attack, how would you have facial injuries ?’3

FOOTNOTES

  1. George Arbuthnott, Jonathan Calvert and David Collins, ‘Revealed: the evidence of war crimes ministers tried to bury,’ The Sunday Times, 17 November 2019, p. 8.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.

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