LONDON -- Britain is beginning a judge-led inquiry into claims that its soldiers murdered and abused civilians in southern Iraq in 2004, some of the most serious allegations made against British forces over the war and occupation of the country.
The Al-Sweady Inquiry is investigating claims that up to 20 Iraqis were tortured and killed at a base in Maysan province after a battle between British troops and insurgents.
It is named for one of the dead, 19-year-old Hamid Al-Sweady.
The British military denies abuse and says all the dead were killed in battle.
The government ordered the inquiry in 2009, but the hearings had to await a lengthy police investigation
Inquiry lawyer Jonathan Acton Davis is due to make an opening statement Monday. The inquiry is expected to last a year.