LONDON – Britain's military authorities are considering whether to prosecute eight British soldiers for allegedly abusing prisoners in Iraq, the Ministry of Defense said Friday.
The case came to light a year ago, when The Sun newspaper reported that a soldier had a roll of film showing an Iraqi detainee bundled up in netting and suspended from a fork lift. The Sun claimed the film also showed troops performing sex acts near captured Iraqis.
On Wednesday, a similar scandal hit the U.S. military after the CBS program "60 Minutes II" broadcast images of Iraqis stripped naked, hooded and being tormented by their American captors.
The Ministry of Defense confirmed on May 30 that the case was under investigation.
On Friday, the ministry said the Royal Military Police's Special Investigations Branch (search) has completed its investigation, and the army's prosecuting authority was deliberating whether to press charges.
None of the soldiers has been publicly identified.
"Where allegations are made, they will be investigated by the SIB and that's what every soldier who wears the British uniform knows," an official in Prime Minister Tony Blair's office said on condition of anonymity.
The British case was mentioned by Blair's spokesman at a morning press briefing, as journalists sought the government's reaction to alleged abuse of Iraqi prisoners of war by U.S. soldiers.
The abuse "is not representative of the 150,000 soldiers that are in Iraq," the Blair official said, adding that the coalition should not be judged on the alleged actions of a few.
The photographs shown by CBS showed Iraqi prisoners naked except for hoods covering their heads and stacked in a human pyramid. CBS, which broadcast the pictures Wednesday, said they were taken at Abu Ghraib prison (search) near Baghdad late last year.
Blair's human-rights envoy to Iraq, Ann Clwyd (search), also condemned the alleged abuse.
"I think they are absolutely terrible," she told British Broadcasting Corp. radio, referring to the photographs. "I am shocked."
Clwyd said she had previously discussed the treatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib with Bush administration officials, but said they had denied there was a problem.
"I was told by a very senior person there, 'We don't do this kind of thing,'" said Clwyd, a lawmaker in Blair's ruling Labour Party and a supporter of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. "Clearly the people in charge did not know this was going on."
A spokeswoman at Clwyd's office said the lawmaker wouldn't name the senior American official she referred to in the BBC interview.