Lawyers slam hand over of Iraqis
Lawyers for two Iraqis handed to the Baghdad government by UK forces in defiance of the European Court of Human Rights have condemned the move as "vindictive".
Faisal Al-Saadoon, 56, and Khalaf Mufdhi, 58, who are accused of murdering two British soldiers, were transferred by British forces who had been holding them in Basra after a Court of Appeal ruling on Tuesday.
The transfer went ahead on Wednesday despite a last-minute bid by the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg to block it with an injunction effectively suspending the Court of Appeal's decision.
The men, who now face trial in an Iraqi court, are suspected of involvement in the murder of Staff Sergeant Simon Cullingworth and Sapper Luke Allsopp.
Sgt Cullingworth, 36, from Essex, and Sapper Allsopp, 24, from north London, who were both in 33 Engineer Regiment, were caught in an ambush near the town of Al Zubayr during the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
They were dragged from their Land Rover to a local Baath Party HQ and then to an Iraqi intelligence base where they were shot.
Phil Shiner, of Public Interest Lawyers, who has fought to stop the transfer, accused the Government of "flagrant disregard" for the European Court and of breaching the Human Rights convention.
Mr Shiner said: "It beggars belief that a Labour Government should act in such flagrant disregard for the rule of law and to have put two fingers up to the European Court in the process.
"There is a vindictive element to this. I am beginning to wonder why the relevant public servants dealing with this case appear to enjoy the prospect of my clients being hung with all the gruesome theatre that involves."
The men had argued that the transfer would violate their human rights because of the risk of torture while in Iraqi custody, the risk of an unfair trial and the risk of the death penalty - all outlawed by the Human Rights Convention, to which the UK is a signatory.