Iraqi doctor was complicit in torture, tribunal finds

Mohammed Al-Byati
Image caption Dr Al-Byati is suspended pending the outcome of the tribunal

An Iraqi doctor was "complicit in acts of torture" as part of Saddam Hussein's regime, a medical tribunal has found.

Mohammed Al-Byati, 47, who has worked at UK hospitals since January 2000, had treated detainees in Iraq from December 1992 to March 1994, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service heard.

The fitness to practise panel found he had known some of his patients had suffered injuries from torture.

It will now decide whether he should be struck off the UK medical register.

It is not alleged that Dr Al-Byati witnessed any acts of torture first hand, nor was there any criticism of his clinical performance in the UK, the tribunal said.

Dr Al-Byati, who is suspended pending the outcome of the tribunal, appeared before the panel on Tuesday.

'Horrific atrocities'

He said he had been a junior doctor in Iraq and had been "terrified" of what would happen to him and his family if he did not do as he was told. He said he had not known the people he was treating had been tortured.

Dr Al-Byati told the panel he was "completely innocent of these charges".

But Charles Garside QC, prosecuting on behalf of the General Medical Council (GMC), said the doctor, a Sunni Muslim, was part of a "well-known family" who supported the Saddam regime.

Mr Garside said he had known his place of work within the Al-Khadymia compound of the Iraqi Intelligence Agency was a place where "horrific atrocities were committed".

Addressing the issue of whether the doctor had known the people he was treating had been tortured and would be tortured again, the tribunal said: "The panel asked itself the following question: 'Why would people who had been tortured and injured be taken to see a medical officer?'

"In answering this question, the panel noted that it had found that Dr Al-Byati knew of the atrocities being committed. The panel observed that when he was required to see people with widespread injuries, he was only permitted to give minimal treatment.

"It was clear that the intention was not to give long-term treatment. In the circumstances, the only logical conclusion that the panel could draw was that they were being given treatment so that they might be tortured further."

'Part of the machinery'

The panel said on Thursday that all the allegations against Dr Al-Byati had been proved.

In a statement of its findings on the facts of the case, the panel said: "It [the tribunal] has already determined that Dr Al-Byati knew that some prisoners he treated had sustained injuries as a result of torture and that, after some of his visits and treatment, it was likely that they would be tortured again.

"It noted that Dr Al-Byati attended for work on a daily basis. He undertook the duties he was ordered to carry out. The access to the clinic was guarded and he was not permitted to leave without an escort.

"The panel has already determined that some of the people being seen by Dr Al-Byati were being given treatment so that they might be tortured further.

"The panel accepted the GMC case that this was neither Dr Al-Byati's wish nor his intention, and it accepted that he was 'part of the machinery'.

"In all the circumstances, the panel determined that by his actions Dr Al-Byati was complicit in acts of torture."

The tribunal is expected to conclude this week.

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