Tuesday 6 May 2003

US troops 'encouraged' Iraqi looters

General Tommy Franks is threatened with a Belgian war crimes trial alleging US troops failed to prevent looting in Iraq. BBC News Online uncovers evidence suggesting his soldiers even egged on some looters.

Studies at Nasiriyah's Technical Institute are on hold. With the city struggling to find its feet after the war, college is the last thing on people's mind.

Perhaps it's just as well. As Saddam Hussein's army fled the southern Iraqi city and the American forces moved in, looters stripped this higher education college. Today it is a shell; laboratories and lecture rooms are a charred shadow of their former selves.

Yet unlike many of the incidents of post-war pillaging, this one was easily preventable, says the institute's acting dean, Dr Khalid Majeed.

When the college called on the patrolling US forces to help, not only did they refuse, some eyewitnesses allege the troops even encouraged the looters to storm the campus.

The US has not denied the incident took place, but says protecting colleges was not its responsibility.

Full story...