Saturday, March 17, 2007

Friendly fire killing criminal, says coroner

"A British coroner has overnight accused the US military of a criminal breach of the international law of armed conflict after the 'friendly fire' death of a British soldier in the early days of the Iraq war.

"Andrew Walker ruled that Lance Corporal Matty Hull was unlawfully killed when two US jets mistakenly attacked his clearly-marked convoy in southern Iraq and criticised the Pentagon for failing to cooperate fully with the inquest.

"Corporal Hull's widow, Susan, said she was relieved with the ruling but accused the United States of letting down its main ally in Iraq by failing to explain the exact circumstances.

"The US Defence Department hit back, reaffirming its own finding that the 25-year-old's death near Basra on March 28, 2003, was a 'tragic accident' and said it had given all relevant information to its British counterparts.

"In a strongly-worded ruling at the hearing in Oxford, south central England, Mr Walker said Corporal Hull's death was avoidable and tantamount to manslaughter.

"'I find there was no lawful authority to fire on the convoy. The attack on the convoy therefore amounted to an assault. It was unlawful because there was no lawful reason for it and in that respect it was criminal,' he added ..."

Iraq widow 'can now move on'

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