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Iranian’s death kept secret after capture by SAS troops

Posted by alanmirs on July 4, 2011

Anne Davies, Deborah Snow

July 4, 2011

Australian troops in Afghanistan.Australian troops in Afghanistan. Photo: Corporal Neil Ruskin

IF IT had not been for Australia’s practice of insisting that it did not take prisoners of war, Tanik Mahmud, a 43-year-old Iranian captured by the Australian SAS at a roadblock in western Iraq in April 2003, might still be alive.

Instead, he died mysteriously aboard an RAF Chinook helicopter on April 12, 2003, as he was being transported by British soldiers to a US detention centre.

There is reason to believe Mahmud was kicked to death by British soldiers.

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An investigation by The Guardian in Britain found there was a complaint lodged alleging that three RAF regiment members kicked two prisoners repeatedly during the flight but there was no autopsy and the newspaper has been told only that he ”sustained a fatal injury” aboard the helicopter.

The British government has never released the findings of an internal inquiry. Until now, this death in custody has remained a purely British embarrassment, because the Australian role was kept from the Australian public.

But documents uncovered by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre reveal it was Australian soldiers who captured Mahmud. When his death was discovered a few weeks later, officials kept it secret amid concerns that if it was made public it would raise serious questions about whether Australia had honoured its obligations under the Geneva Conventions.

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