Maza’l Karim Al-Sweady was the first of some 60 Iraqi witnesses that will present their evidence to the “Al-Sweady” enquiry, which is investigating the controversial circumstances surrounding the killing of 28 people during or after a battle at a checkpoint ‘Danny Boy’ in southern Iraq.
The committee is named after Hamid Najal Al-Sweady (aged 19), who was one of a group of Iraqis that claimed to have been arrested and later killed while in custody. The British Army denies these allegations.
Maza’l arrived at the headquarters of the Commission of Inquiry carrying a picture of his son. Before answering questions, he showed the photo to the head of the committee, retired High Court judge Sir Thayne Forbes.
His testimony went on to include harrowing images of his son’s corpse, and he described the injuries that he says he saw on his body shortly after his death. Speaking through an interpreter, Al-Sweady explained how he had prepared Hamid’s body before burial, and witnessed the result of a cord being used around his neck, bruises on his chest, and a broken jaw. He also reported two bullet wounds; one to the neck and another to his leg.
This is the second British Public Commission of Inquiry to investigate the behavior of the Army throughout the war in Iraq. The costly and ongoing investigations have fuelled public discussion about the reasons for Britain’s participation in the US-led invasion of Iraq, and the way in which it was conducted.
The Al-Sweady inquiry, ordered by the British government in 2009, has already cost 16 million pounds ($24 million) in its pre-hearings phase.
The hearings, expected to last about a year, will involve flying 15 Iraqi witnesses to London and another 45 to Beirut where they will give evidence by video-link from the British embassy. Some 200 British military witnesses will also testify.