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Home / News and Insights / Insights / Public inquiry explores alleged British military misconduct

The Iraq Fatality Investigations’ (IFI) public hearings into the deaths of Radhi Nama, Mousa Ali and Ahmed Jabbar Kareem Ali, supported by BDB Pitmans’ Sophie Warner in her capacity as Solicitor to the Inquiry and Assistant to the Inspector, have today concluded.

The hearings, chaired by the Inspector, Dame Anne Rafferty, took place remotely over three days and heard the evidence of 13 witnesses from the UK and Iraq. A small number of supplementary public hearings will take place in due course to hear the evidence of a discrete number of witnesses unable to attend these April 2023 hearings.

BDB Pitmans’ public law team are often called upon to advise in high-profile matters, including judicial review and statutory appeals and regularly advise commercial and public sector clients on a wide range of administrative and public law matters.

The IFI is an independent public inquiry, established under R (Ali Zaki Mousa and others) v Secretary of State for Defence (No. 2) [2013] EWHC 1412 (Admin), tasked with investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Iraqi citizens where British Forces were involved, amid allegations of unlawful killing. There is a stringent process for determining whether a case should be referred to the IFI for investigation:

‘The IFI is not concerned with determining civil or criminal liability. Appropriate cases are referred by the Ministry of Defence only after it has been decided that there is no realistic prospect of a criminal conviction and all criminal investigations and review processes have been completed.’

The IFI inquiry team are currently investigating the immediate and wider facts and circumstances of:

  1. The deaths of Radhi Nama and Mousa Ali, who died on 08 May 2003 and 13 May 2003 respectively, following their detention at a British Military base in Iraq. Due to an overlap in location and personnel, as well as the short passage of time between the deaths, these events are being investigated together; and
  2. The death of Ahmed Jabbar Kareem Ali, who died on 08 May 2003. Part 1 of this Investigation was undertaken by Sir George Newman, who concluded that Ahmed Jabbar Kareem Ali drowned in the Shatt al Basra Canal after being detained for looting by British Forces and being forced into the Canal whilst in their custody. Part 2 of the Investigation seeks to ascertain whether there was a practice of ‘wetting’ looters in post-war Iraq as a method of deterrence.

Following these hearings, the Inspector will report in writing.

Public hearings are important in ensuring accountability, especially in matters involving governmental institutions funded using taxpayers’ money. They act as an important mechanism for ensuring transparency around any alleged misconduct or wrongdoing.

The IFI’s public hearings are inquisitorial, not adversarial. They are an opportunity for the Inspector and public inquiry team to explore and fully understand the evidence of the witnesses to the Investigations, who were present when the events under Investigation took place.

The oral evidence obtained during the hearings will, in addition to the written witness statements obtained from witnesses, form the basis of the Inspector’s report. This report is to be published in Summer 2023.

The Inspector’s report will set out her findings regarding the circumstances leading to these deaths, with recommendations to prevent similar tragedies taking place in the future.

Public inquiries are complex procedures; for clients in need of strategic legal advice our Chambers-ranked public law team are on hand to assist you in navigating the public inquiry hearing process.

For regular updates from our public law team, subscribe to the Public Law blog.

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