Amnesty researcher Said Boumedouha said the group had so far interviewed about 20 people who said they were tortured -- mostly by beatings but at least one by electric shock -- after being detained as prisoners of war. Some civilians were held as suspected Iraqi militia fighters.
Boumedouha said Amnesty was still collecting witness statements and had not corroborated the statements, nor raised the matter with British or U.S. authorities on any level.
"They are a mixture of civilians and soldiers... The torture some people have mentioned is mostly beatings," Boumedouha said at a news briefing in London about the Amnesty mission in Iraq.
"We interviewed one person who was beaten up for a whole night, who was bleeding but they wouldn't even give him water."
No immediate comment was available from either the Ministry of Defence nor U.S. authorities.
Boumedouha said the allegations were being taken seriously and that his initial gut reaction was that they were true.
"I think they are telling the truth. But to what extent (it happened) and the details of it all...that we are still trying to establish."
"We still have many interviews to go. I hope that we will be able to make a statement in the next two weeks or so."
The Iraqis interviewed said they were tortured at Basra and Nassiriya before being taken to a base at Umm Qasr where they were held as prisoners of war. All were later released.
Boumedouha did not say how they came to talk to the Iraqis.
Amnesty also called on U.S. and British troops to do more to improve security for the Iraqi people and protect the sites of several mass graves unearthed in the country.
Boumedouha said Iraqis had told them that protection from criminal gangs was a bigger problem than getting food and water.
"The looting in Basra for example is still unbelievable and now there are other problems, including car-jacking and revenge killings against former police and Baath party members."
Edited by Althalus, 16 May 2003 - 08:44 PM.