Military re-opens case after abuse video surfaces

The Defence Command is being accused of a cover-up for denying that soldiers carried cameras during a military operation in which Iraqi forces allegedly abused prisoners

The Danish military is reopening an investigation into whether Danish soldiers failed to intervene while Iraqi security forces abused prisoners.

The announcement arrives the day after a former intelligence officer, Anders Kærgaard, released a video that proved Danish forces did witness abuse.

The military has previously denied that the soldiers had any cameras and even yesterday the Defence Command stated that they did not know that Danish soldiers had witnessed abuse.

“It is with great regret that I can reveal that the military has passed on information that turns out not to be comprehensive,” the Chief of Defence, General Peter Bertram, stated in a press release. “It is not good enough so now I want a thorough investigation of the actual events.”

The prisoner abuse case is based on claims made after a September 2004 large-scale joint mission called Green Desert, in which the Danes worked alongside American, British and Iraqi forces.

Following the mission, an Iraqi newspaper published a story claiming that Danish soldiers stood by while 36 prisoners were abused by Iraqi security forces.

The military has repeatedly denied knowing anything about the abuse and in February 2011, the Military Prosecution Service decided not to pursue a criminal case due to a lack of evidence.

After the revelations, however, the Military Prosecution Service said they would reconsider the case and would meet with Kærgaard next week, though no details about the meeting were revealed.

Following the decision not to pursue a criminal case, 11 Iraqis launched a civil case against the Ministry of Defence and are each seeking 50,000 kroner in damages.

Kærgaard’s video will be entered as evidence into the case that the Iraqis' lawyer, Christian Harlang, fears is being deliberately slowed down by the state. Two weeks ago, several politicians demanded the state drop their procedural questions about whether the case had passed its statute of limitations.

Harlang also accused the Defence Command of lying after it declared in a written statement in December 2011 that “the Defence did not make video recordings during Operation Green Desert in Al-Zubair in Iraq on 25 November 2011”.

“What has happened is fraud toward the criminal process and that is a punishable action,” Harlang told Politiken.

The revelation of the video is particularly embarrassing for the Danish officer responsible during Green Desert, Lt-Col John Dalby, who had previously denied his soldiers had cameras.

The video clearly showed soldiers carrying other large cameras, however, and today Dalby stated that some soldiers did, actually, have cameras.

“Intelligence officers had cameras that they used for recognisance and it looks like it was those camera that were being used during the operation,” he told Politiken. “I should have known but there are probably lots of other things I don’t know about but that I should.”

In his defence, Lt.-Col Dalby added that after the allegations of abuse were made, he had asked his soldiers to come forward with information and no-one did.

General Bertram also stated in the press release that no-one had yet come forward and dialled the hotline that was set up for witnesses to leave information.

“The military has nothing to hide and is only interested in having all the relevant information publicised,” Betram wrote. “That’s why I am calling on anyone that is in possession of information that can shed light on the actual events to step forward and contact our hotline.”

The Defence Command also published all its information regarding Green Desert on its website.

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