16 December 2012
Lawyers for the family of Baha Mousa, an Iraqi man beaten to death whilst in detention by British Forces have welcomed the findings of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) that a former British Army doctor failed to protect detainees and acted dishonestly after the death of Mr Mousa.
Dr Derek Keilloh had appeared in front of the MPTS in June this year. He had been serving as a medical officer with the Queen's Lancashire Regiment in Basra in September 2003 when hotel receptionist Baha Mousa was killed and 9 other detainees were tortured whilst in British custody.
A public inquiry into Mr Mousa’s death, led by Sir William Gage, found that Mr Mousa died following what Sir William described as an "appalling episode" of violence.
The hearing into Dr Keilloh’s conduct focused on allegations that he failed to ensure written records were made of medical examinations of civilian detainees, failing to conduct an adequate examination of Baha Mousa’s body after death and failing to notify a superior officer of the circumstances of his death.
Dr Keilloh claimed to have seen no more than some dried blood under Baha’s nose after unsuccessfully trying to resuscitate him. A subsequent post mortem found 93 separate injuries to Mr Mousa’s body.
Despite being the treating doctor at the time of death, Keilloh did not sign the death certificate. Instead he informed the person who did sign the death certificate that cause of death was cardio-respiratory arrest. Shortly after Mr Mousa’s death, Dr Keilloh examined two other detainees at the same detention facility, both of whom complained of having been assaulted by soldiers and being in extreme pain.
One of the detainees, Mr Ahmed Taha Mousa Muttairi, was suffering from a visible hernia, which had been evident to a number of the guards at the detention facility. In evidence to the public inquiry, Dr Keilloh stated that he saw no marks on the body of either detainee and did not believe their allegations of assault.
He did not report their complaints to anyone and both men were returned to the detention building where they describe being subjected to further assaults. The MPTS found that Dr Keilloh was aware of the injuries to the victim - but failed to conduct an adequate examination of the body.
It also found that knowing of the dead man's condition he then failed to assess other detainees or protect them from further mistreatment and tell senior officers what was going on.
The MPTS said he engaged in "misleading and dishonest" conduct when, at courts martials and a subsequent public inquiry, he maintained under oath he saw no injuries to Mr Mousa's body.
Dr Keilloh now faces being struck off by the tribunal after it has retired to decide whether his behaviour amounts to misconduct, and if so, what the penalty should be.
Daniel Leader from law firm Leigh Day who represented the Mousa family said: "We are pleased that the MPTS have found, in accordance with evidence presented at the public inquiry, that Derek Keilloh was guilty of misleading and dishonest conduct after the death of Baha Mousa.
"A doctor is bound by the Hippocratic oath to care for people regardless of their nationality or whether they are guilty or innocent of any crime. In this case our client was an entirely innocent man who was beaten to death. The panel's ruling today sends a clear message that just because a doctor is a soldier or in a theatre of war their ethical responsibilities are not diminished."
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