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A British soldier shot at the “twitching bodies” of Iraqis after a 2004 battle, a public inquiry in London heard on Wednesday, while another stamped on the head of a dead Iraqi.
The Al-Sweady Inquiry, ordered in 2009, is investigating claims that British soldiers abused and killed at least 20 Iraqis detained after the Battle of Danny Boy near the town of Majar-al-Kabir in May 2004.
Former army private Duncan Aston told the inquiry that he was collecting weapons from dead Iraqis after the firefight when he noticed that some were “twitching”.
“At the time, I assumed that because they were twitching this meant that there must be some life there,” he said.
His platoon seargeant, Paul Kelly, approached the bodies and fired on them. When his gun did not work he demanded Aston's, the private said.
“He put a full magazine of bullets into both bodies that had been twitching but he also fired into the bodies of the other dead gunmen in the ditch,” Aston said.
He and another soldier who witnessed the incident had not reported it because they were afraid that Kelly “might find out and cause problems for us in the army in some way.”
He also saw a fellow private stamp on the head of a dead Iraqi and witnessed three other soldiers attacking a detainee in a derelict building during the battle.
The Battle of Danny Boy, which turned into a three-hour firefight after a group of British soldiers were ambushed by Iraqi insurgents, was one of the most violent fought by the British during the Iraq war.
After the battle, the British army says it took some of the bodies back to its Camp Abu Naji and later handed them over to relatives. It denies Iraqi accusations of mistreatment and killing of detainees and says all of the dead were killed in battle. - Sapa-dpa