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Iraq

ICC reopens probe into alleged British war crimes in Iraq

The ICC has said it will reopen an initial investigation into alleged war crimes carried out by British forces during the Iraq War. Burning, sexual assault and electrocution of detainees are among the alleged abuses.

The Hague-based International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor said on Tuesday she would reopen a "preliminary examination" into alleged war crimes by British soldiers.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement from the ICC that the decision followed new submissions alleging abuse by UK troops after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

"The new information... alleges the responsibility of officials of the United Kingdom for war crimes involving systematic detainee abuse in Iraq from 2003 to 2008," Bensouda said.

Bensouda's office said it had received documents from the Berlin-based European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in January. The information, jointly submitted by the Birmingham-based group Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), was based on interviews with more than 400 Iraqi detainees.

'Sensory deprivation and stress'

Both the ECCHR and PIL alleged that British troops subjected detainees to severe physical and psychological abuse at "military detention facilities and other locations." Soldiers were alleged to have used sensory deprivation, prolonged stress positions, burning and electrocution during the 2003-2008 occupation.

Detainees were beaten and sexually assaulted as well as being threatened with rape and death, the ECCHR said.

Britain's Attorney General Dominic Grieve rejected the allegation of systematic abuse. "Where allegations have been made that individuals may have broken those laws, they are being comprehensively investigated," Grieve said in a statement.

Bensouda is now to deliberate on whether to ask ICC judges for permission to launch a full-scale investigation.

rc/jm (AFP, AP, dpa)

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