After three years of delays, the Al-Sweady Inquiry into claims British soldiers murdered at least 20 Iraqis and tortured detainees during the Iraq War in 2004 finally began in London on Monday.
The inquiry was ordered in 2009 by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), which conceded the need for a fresh investigation into allegations that British soldiers killed up to 20 detainees, including 19-year-old Hamid Al-Sweady, after the Battle of Danny Boy near Amara in southern Iraq on May 14, 2004. Five more Iraqis claim they were tortured after being taken to a detention centre near Basra.
The British army vigourously denies the allegations. It claims the men died in bloody hand-to-hand combat and not in custody.
The hearings are set to last almost a year and will examine evidence from 498 military witnesses and 97 Iraqis.
Key Iraqi witnesses are expected to travel to the UK to give evidence in person next week.
The inquiry is chaired by retired High Court judge, Thayne Forbes, with Jonathan Acton Davis QC as the lead counsel to the inquiry.
Nearly a decade after the invasion of Iraq, Britain is facing allegations from several fronts of abuse inflicted on prisoners and civilians in Iraq between 2003 and 2008.
The abuse case of Baha Mousa, an Iraqi hotel worker who died in 2003 while in British custody, is probably the most famous case in the UK.
A three-year public inquiry into Mousa's death concluded that he had died from injuries sustained during repeated assaults.
Seven soldiers were charged but six of those were acquitted or had their charges dropped.
The Ministry of Defence has maintained that issues around interrogation and detention during theIraq War were dealt with at the inquiry into Mousa's death, and through continuing internal investigations by its own Iraq Historic Allegations Team.
Britain, the second largest contributor of troops to the Iraq war behind the United States, has so far paid out about 14 million pounds (22 million dollars) to over 200 Iraqis to settle claims of abuse by British troops.
Presented by Adam Justice