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Five Spanish soldiers accused of torturing prisoners in Iraq

Judge prosecutes legionnaires over video footage published by EL PAÍS

The video recorded of the beating in Diwaniya in 2004.
Miguel González

In an unprecedented decision, a judge has accused five Spanish soldiers of violating the rules of war and is prosecuting them on torture charges.

The servicemen, who are all current or former members of the elite military unit known as La Legión, are under scrutiny for allegedly abusing two prisoners at the Spanish base in Iraq in 2004.

If found guilty, they face between 10 and 25 years in prison, according to the Military Penal Code.

The defendants are a captain who now works at the National Intelligence Center (CNI), two corporals (one who is still with La Legión and another now with the Civil Guard), and two civil guards who were legionnaires at the time of the incident.

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The judge’s statement says that sometime between January 22 and February 18, 2004, a group of soldiers took advantage of the fact that the guards on night duty had ended their shift to enter a cell holding two prisoners “with the goal of humiliating them” in revenge for the stress caused by attacks against the Spanish military in Iraq.

The legal action began after EL PAÍS published a video of the event on March 17, 2013 in which a group of servicemen are seen beating two prisoners. Although their faces are pixelated, witness reports resulted in the identification of five of them.

The 25-second video shows the prisoners being slapped in the face and kicked at least 32 times. The beating was recorded as a document for internal consumption, “to increase the humiliation and objectification of the Iraqis,” reads the judge’s report.

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