OSNABRUECK, Germany -- The highest-ranking of three British soldiers accused of abusing Iraqi captives told authorities he did not report another defendant he saw mistreating the detainees because he had already reprimanded him, a court heard yesterday.
Corporal Daniel Kenyon, 33, who has pleaded not guilty to several counts of failing to report abuse to superiors, told investigators when he was interrogated in October 2003 that he had tied up an Iraqi man suspected of looting a humanitarian aid warehouse because the man was acting ''as if he were on drugs," according to a transcript read at his court-martial.
After leaving the scene, Kenyon returned to see another defendant in the case, 25-year-old Lance Corporal Mark Cooley, driving a forklift with the bound man on its forks, the transcript showed. Kenyon reprimanded Cooley, but five minutes later saw him posing the captives to simulate sex acts for photos.
''At that stage I blew my top -- that was clearly well off the mark," Kenyon told investigators.
Still, Kenyon said it did not occur to him to report the abuse.
''He'd had his telling off. He hadn't physically hurt the people -- remember we had actually been at war shooting at people," he said. Kenyon told interrogators that he couldn't remember anyone else being involved.
The pictures taken that day in May 2003 by the group of soldiers guarding the warehouse outside Basra are the most critical evidence for the trial. The defendants are from an antitank platoon in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, based in Germany.
Some of the photos show a bound Iraqi being dangled over a loading dock by a forklift, another being subjected to a simulated kick and a simulated punch, and both Iraqis stripped and forced to feign sexual acts together.
The pictures provoked widespread dismay in Britain after they were published in newspapers, leading to uncomfortable comparisons with the scandal over abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad.
Kenyon told investigators, however, that the photos were not as serious as they appeared, saying of one in which Cooley appears to be hitting a prisoner, ''it was just like pulling a face behind someone's back."
Cooley has pleaded not guilty in the case.
A third soldier, Lance Corporal Darren Larkin, 30, pleaded guilty to one count of battery after prosecutors alleged he was the man shown in a photo standing with both feet on a tied-up Iraqi lying on the ground. He has pleaded not guilty to all other abuse-related charges against him.
A fourth defendant, Fusilier Gary Bartlam, who took the photos that prompted the investigation, has been sentenced in the case.
The judge, Michael Hunter, has barred reporting on the details of Bartlam's trial.