Military police are investigating claims that British soldiers mutilated the bodies of Iraqi insurgents after a firefight last month near the southern Iraqi town of Majar al Kabir.
The allegations are contained in official death certificates seen by the Guardian written by Dr Adel Salid Majid, the director of the hospital in Majar al Kabir, on May 15, the day after the battle.
Seven of the certificates state that corpses handed over to hospital authorities by British troops showed signs of "mutilation" and "torture".
Dr Majid's conclusions have been questioned by a senior doctor at the Amara general hospital, 25km to the north. Speaking anonymously to the Guardian, he disputed his colleague's claims after examining one of the seven corpses in question.
The military police are studying photographs of the bodies, the original death certificates and part of a video film taken at Amara hospital by the relatives of the dead.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: "The military police are looking at the evidence. They have yet to commence a formal investigation."
A British army spokesman in Basra dismissed the allegations of mutilation as "absurd".
"Such claims are an insult to the whole British army and an attempt to stain the image of men who are putting their lives at risk every day to secure Iraq for the Iraqis," he said.
The Guardian has seen 28 death certificates, which were completed by doctors at Majar al Kabir hospital on May 14 and 15. A 29th victim of the firefight, a shepherd, died of his wounds later...