The father of an Iraqi man killed in 2003 in the custody of British troops testified Wednesday that his son may have been beaten to death in a revenge attack because the father had reported a British soldier for theft.

Daoud Mousa, a former senior Iraqi police officer, said he feared his son, Baha, 26, was singled out by British soldiers following a raid on a hotel in the southern Iraqi city of Basra in September 2003. Troops had raided the hotel in a hunt for Saddam Hussein loyalists.

Mousa told a British public inquiry on Wednesday that he had seen a British soldier stuff bank notes from a safe at that hotel into his pocket and that he had reported him to the soldier's superiors. Mousa said troops may have attacked his son in revenge for the theft report.

The rare public inquiry, led by retired Court of Appeal Judge William Gage, was ordered by the British government to investigate the circumstances of Baha Mousa's death and to make recommendations for improvements in military detention techniques.

After making the theft report to a man he called "Lieutenant Mike," Mousa saw his son lie face down on the floor of the hotel with a number of other Iraqi men. Mousa testified that he had pointed out his son to the soldiers in hopes that British troops would release him.

"I pointed to my son. The soldiers were standing by," he said. "I think they knew the one I was pointing to was my son, therefore they wanted revenge against me."

Daoud Mousa wept repeatedly as he described the trauma caused to his family by his son's death. Mousa also told the inquiry he had spoken to several other detainees about his son's treatment and had been told "how violently, how cruelly, they had been treated."

"My son was tortured to death in front of his colleagues," Mousa said in a written statement. "It is clear that the soldiers responsible gained sadistic pleasure by laughing continually while my son was being abused."

Earlier this week, Rabinder Singh, a lawyer for the slain man's family, told the inquiry that Baha Mousa and a number of other men were subjected to interrogation techniques that had been banned by the British government in 1972 amid controversy over their use during the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Singh told the inquiry that the British soldiers used stress positions, hooding, sleep deprivation, food deprivation and white noise on the men.

Mousa's death already has led to the conviction of Britain's first war criminal, Cpl. Donald Payne, who was dismissed by the army and sentenced in 2007 to a year in prison for inhuman treatment. Mousa's family also shared in the approximately $4.9 million settlement agreed to last year by the Ministry of Defense and Iraqi victims of abuse and torture.