U.K. settles with tortured Iraqis for $6 million

/ Source: The Associated Press

Ten Iraqis tortured by the British military agreed Thursday to settle a civil case brought against the Ministry of Defense for $6 million, according to their lawyers.

The settlement involves the family of slain hotel clerk Baha Mousa and nine others who suffered injuries while in the custody of British forces in southern Iraq, according to the firm, Leigh Day & Co.

Mousa was a 26-year-old hotel receptionist who died in September 2003 after being detained in the southern Iraqi city of Basra along with a group of other Iraqis on suspicion of being insurgents.

A post-mortem found Mousa suffered 93 different injuries, including a broken nose and fractured ribs. It said he died of asphyxia, caused by a stress position that soldiers forced him to maintain.

Senior British officials have publicly admitted violating European conventions prohibiting torture in their handling of the case. They did not immediately comment on the reported settlement.

Daoud Mousa, the victim's father and an Iraqi police colonel, praised the resolution of the dispute.

"The death of my son is with me every day of my life," he said. "Today's settlement will ease a little of that pain and will go some way to enabling his children and my grandchildren to rebuild their lives."

Martyn Day, the senior lawyer handling the case, said the settlement was welcome after years of legal proceedings.

"Our clients have been through hell over the last few years and this settlement will go some way to enabling our clients to have some semblance of a decent future life," Day said.

The firm said that British officials apologized during the mediation proceedings, but Ministry of Defense officials would not immediately confirm or deny this report. They said they would release a statement later in the day.