LONDON (AP) — Britain's Supreme Court has blocked damage claims in a series of test cases brought by Iraqi civilians who allege they were mistreated by British soldiers Iraq between 2003 and 2009.
The decision has implications for more than 600 Iraqi citizens, who sued the Ministry of Defense. The Iraqis claim they were unlawfully imprisoned and abused during the time Britain was participating in the American-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.
The justices held that the civilians should have brought their claims within a three-year deadline specified under Iraqi law.
Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said the ruling in Britain's highest court would "save the taxpayer millions," and that there was "a pernicious industry trying to profit from dubious claims lodged against our armed forces years after the alleged incidents."
Lawyers representing the Iraqis say they will continue the attempt to fight, describing Thursday's ruling as drawing the parameters for the unsettled cases.
"This technical judgment has the result of revising the hurdle that the majority of the remaining cases brought by Iraqi civilians against the MoD will have to get over to enable their claims to be heard in the British courts," the law firm Leigh Day said. "We remain confident in the merits of the test cases going to trial this summer, brought exclusively against the U.K. government over their role in southern Iraq."