UK grants asylum to Iraqi doctor accused of war crimes under Saddam regime

The Iraqi doctor claimed he was forced to treat prisoners who were being tortured so that they could endure more torment.
author_image Kurdistan 24

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The United Kingdom has granted asylum to an Iraqi man who was accused of indirectly participating in war crimes under the Saddam Hussein regime, British media reported on Saturday.  

Mohammed Kassim al-Byati, 54, served as a doctor under Hussein’s military intelligence agency known as Al-Istikhbarat where he was forced to treat prisoners who were being tortured so that they could endure more torture, The Telegraph reported.

A UK appeal court ruled this week that there was insufficient evidence to prove that Byati had directly tortured or contributed to the torture of prisoners, it added.

The 54-year-old left Iraq in December 1995 for Libya where he worked as a doctor under Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. He arrived in Britain in January 2000. According to The Telegraph, Byati waited seven years before he claimed asylum.

The UK’s Home Office Border Agency rejected the Iraqi’s claim at the time, alleging he had “committed crimes against humanity” while he worked as a doctor in Iraq. He was allowed to stay in Britain after Iraqi immigration officials warned the Home Office the doctor’s life would be in danger if he returned.

Although the court at the time did not accuse Byati of direct involvement in the torture, it insisted he knew the prisoners he treated would face further torment and he “never sought to leave the Al-Istikhbarat throughout his military service” between 1992 to 1995.

Since 2015, the Iraqi had argued before immigration tribunals that he carried out his medical duties for fear of his own life and pressure from the Iraqi dictatorship regime.

Three Court of Appeal judges finally ruled in his favor this week, and he was granted asylum, as well as being allowed to practice medicine in the UK where he lives with his wife and children.

At the height of its brutal reign, the former Iraqi regime was responsible for countless acts of war crimes against minority groups in Iraq and Kurds in the autonomous Kurdistan Region.

Hussein was eventually overthrown and sentenced to death by hanging following the US liberation of Iraq in 2003.