- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 18, 2005

OSNABRUECK, Germany — A British soldier pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of beating an Iraqi captive. He and two others pleaded not guilty to all other charges as their court-martial opened on accusations they mistreated Iraqis.

Photos of purported mistreatment published in a British newspaper in the spring of 2003 led to investigations against the three men.

Prosecutor Lt. Col. Nick Clapham opened his case by presenting 22 of the photos to the jury. They showed one bound Iraqi captive being dangled over a loading dock by a forklift, another being subjected to simulated punches and kicks, and both prisoners being forced to simulate sex acts on each other.

“It cannot be said that those images depict anything other than something that is shocking and appalling,” Col. Clapham told the court on a British base in Germany.

The defendants, all from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, showed little emotion as Col. Clapham spoke.

As the court-martial opened, Lance Cpl. Darren Larkin, 30, pleaded guilty to battery for assaulting and beating an Iraqi in his custody. But he pleaded not guilty to indecent conduct for purportedly forcing two Iraqi detainees to undress in front of others.

He admitted to the battery charge because he knew what he did was wrong, his attorney, William England, told the jury of seven men.

“He is ashamed of his unacceptable and mindless act … and that he has brought shame to his proud regiment, himself and his family,” Mr. England said.

Cpl. Daniel Kenyon, 33, and Lance Cpl. Mark Cooley, 25, pleaded not guilty to all charges.

It was the first time the charges were officially announced, and it was not clear what punishments they face.

Cpl. Kenyon, who outranks the other defendants, is accused of being present while abuse was taking place and not reporting it.

The abuse reportedly took place in May 2003 while the three soldiers were stationed at a food warehouse compound outside Basra in southern Iraq, where looters raided the humanitarian supplies stored there nightly, Cpl. Clapham said.

The camp commander, identified as Maj. Dan Taylor, issued an order that captured looters were to be punished with menial work and “perhaps made to work hard,” Cpl. Clapham said.

The prosecutor said Maj. Taylor’s order was “unlawful,” but he emphasized that “we say these charges are a long way outside that order,” suggesting that the defense may try to argue that the men charged were following an officer’s command.

A fourth soldier, Fusilier Gary Bartlam, 20, went on trial last week in the same case at a different British base in Germany, but Judge Michael Hunter imposed a gag order on journalists, banning any reporting about the process.

Last week in the United States, Army Spc. Charles Graner Jr. was sentenced to 10 years in prison in the first trial stemming from the scandal over abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison.

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