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Army officer tossed laptops into the sea

Denies destroying evidence in Iraq mistreatment case

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The High Court has heard how an army officer destroyed laptops containing pictures of Iraqis killed in a controversial battle near Basra.

The hearing yesterday was part of a bid by six Iraqis to force the government to order a judicial review into the "Battle of Danny Boy", The Guardian reports. The six claim they were mistreated.

British troops were ambushed at a checkpoint in May 2004. It is alleged that after the resulting battle, British soldiers may have killed up to 20 captives, including civilians.

Photographs were taken of those killed for identification purposes. Their bodies were unusually ordered to be brought to the British camp as part of the investigation into the killing of six military police nearby six months earlier.

Captain James Rands, an intelligence officer in the 1st Battalion of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, told the High Court he had destroyed a personal laptop containing the photographs of the dead by throwing it from a cross channel ferry in 2006. He said he felt it was "crucial" to destroy the broken machine.

He had already downloaded the pictures to a second laptop, which he later also destroyed, telling the court it contained "a lot of work documents" and "it made sense to ditch it in the same way".

He said he thought his disposal of the laptops at sea was a "nothing issue" and that he did not keep the photographs because they were "extremely unpleasant".

The government is opposing the call for a judicial review of the "Battle of Danny Boy". ®

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