Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Just a Slap for the Major; Officer Who Gave Order to Work Iraqi Looters Hard Was Given Reprieve by Superiors, Court Told

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Just a Slap for the Major; Officer Who Gave Order to Work Iraqi Looters Hard Was Given Reprieve by Superiors, Court Told

Article excerpt

Byline: RICHARD EDWARDS

The Army officer who gave an "unlawful" order to his soldiers to come down hard on Iraqis caught looting escaped with a slap on the wrist, a court martial heard today.

The order by Major Dan Taylor breached the Geneva Convention and the crackdown which followed at an aid camp near Basra led to three soldiers being charged with abusing civilians.

But Major Taylor was only dealt with at "summary level", which means he was spoken to by senior officers, known in Army slang as "interview without coffee".

The officers concluded that he was guilty of no more than " misguided zeal", the court heard.

Details of what happened to Major Taylor in the aftermath of what he called Operation Ali Baba emerged as he was giving evidence at the court martial in Osnabruck. Major Taylor said he ordered Operation Ali Baba after aid workers pleaded with him to shoot looters raiding vital food supplies.

Three soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers are accused of abusing and assaulting Iraqi civilian prisoners at Camp Bread Basket, near Basra.

Lance Corporal Mark Cooley, 25, and Corporal Daniel Kenyon, 33, both from Newcastle upon Tyne, both deny the charges.

Lance Corporal Darren Larkin, 30, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, has admitted assault but denies another charge of forcing two Iraqis to undress in front of others.

Photographs taken of the alleged abuse include images of naked Iraqi prisoners simulating sex acts, British soldiers pretending to punch and kick bound men and a prisoner tied to the forks of a forklift truck.

Joseph Giret, counsel for Cpl Kenyon, slammed Major Taylor as an officer who ignored the rules of war to mete out a punishment he knew to be illegal.

"This is not Operation Ali Baba.

This is Operation Mish-Mash for mismanagement," he said. …

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