Torture in Iraq: Appendix A

By

Extracts from a Doctor's Report of Neji Bennour's Medical Examination (Paris, 19 April 1984)

Transient symptoms

Mr. Bennour was examined on 19 April 1984, that is, 17 days after his release.

Return to "The Accuser"

If we are to consider as "transient symptoms" those reported by the subject himself while under torture and during the weeks that followed but which were not apparent at the time of the medical examination, in the present case the transient symptoms must be taken together with the long-term symptoms, the examination taking place shortly after the ill-treatment.

Long-term symptoms

Headaches on the left side...otalgia [pain in ear] with hypoacusis [slightly diminished hearing] on the same side...Reduction of visual acuity [clarity of vision] on the left side. Feeling of stiffness throughout body with cervical and lumbar rachialgia (spinal pain].

This active young man, who played 90-minute football games, now suffers notable fatigue with dyspnoea [difficulty breathing] on exercise, particularly when climbing stairs.

There is also sharp pain in the heels when walking, especially in the right foot, with a sensation of swelling, paraesthesia [prickling sensation like pins and needles], and pruritis [itching sensation].

The subject complains of rapid heartbeat in the evenings. He has trouble sleeping, has nightmares and screams in his sleep (noted by his wife). The subject cannot sleep alone; he fears solitude, and becomes anxious if he is walking alone in the street, fearing that he will be followed and watched.

Clinical examination

Height: 1m72

Weight: 60kg (normal weight = 65kg)

Skin:

On the back there are three scars over the upper spine, measuring 5-6cm long by 1cm wide.

There is a scar, 11cm long over the right scapula shoulder blade ; three scan of 4-7cm long on the left hemithorax [left side of the chest]; six perpendicular scars over the lumbo-sacral vertebrae, on the flanks and buttocks and, finally a 2cm scar on the left forearm.

All these scars are consistent with the allegation of blows with a blunt instrument such as a truncheon as stated by the subject.

Examination of the skin reveals a variety of parasitic skin infections.

 

Locomotory system

Cervical movement is limited. Movement is normal in the rest of the spine although movements are painful.

Radiological examination

...Right foot ...sequela of a fracture of the 3rd phalanx of the 5th toe.

The podiatrist consulted noted vasomotory difficulties in the feet, caused directly by trauma inflicted, aggravated by poor hygiene during detention which favoured the development of mycoses in addition to lesions where nails had been pulled out or damaged; the nail on the 5th right toe which had been lost had grown back abnormally, very much thickened and with fragile outer table.

There is some limitation in the ability to spread the toes, in particular the big toes, making walking tiring; future problems of an arthritic nature in the feet cannot be excluded. Orthopaedic shoes would seem absolutely necessary.

Psycho-neurological system

The subject complains of persistent left-side headaches following blows he received to the head.

The neurological examination proved on the whole normal, in particular the nose-finger test and patellar and achilles tendon reflexes which are normal...the cutaneous plantar reflex was absent on both sides; interpretation of sensation is difficult due to the subject's high sensitivity to simple contact.

Otorhino-laryngeal system

The subject complains of humming in the ears, particularly at night. There is no otalgia [ear ache] and the otorrhagia [bleeding from the ear] which developed during detention has not recurred.

The specialist consulted noted bilateral and symmetrical hypoacusis. However, no earlier audiogram is available for comparison.

Teeth

The dentist consulted noted a fracture of the upper right incisor with slight movement, causing considerable pain on pressure; the fracture is perfectly consistent with reports of a blow from the foot received here.

There is also generalized loosening of the teeth and gingivitis caused by the abundant presence of tartar.

Digestive system

Abdomen sensitive to palpation, but there is no swelling, guarding, nor localized pain.

Other tests: normal.

CONCLUSION

The clinical examination of Mr. Neji Bennour and the radiological examinations and laboratory tests made by the doctor and the various specialists consulted are highly consistent with the symptoms described and the torture alleged.

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