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British Soldier Pleads Guilty to War Crime at Start of Court Martial


A British soldier facing court martial in Britain has pleaded guilty to committing the war crime of treating detainees inhumanely while serving in Iraq.

Corporal Donald Payne entered his plea today on a military base southwest of London. He is one of seven British soldiers charged in the 2003 death of an Iraqi hotel receptionist held in British custody in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. The remaining six defendants pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Authorities say the receptionist sustained more than 90 injuries. A second detainee was described as so badly beaten that he nearly died of kidney failure.

Corporal Payne has pleaded not guilty to the more serious charges of manslaughter and obstructing justice.

A military prosecutor told the tribunal today Tuesday his case will show systematic abuse and unacceptable violence against prisoners. The trial is expected to last at least four months.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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