Iraqis cleared over UK troop deaths

Iraqi court rules that there is not enough evidence to prosecute two men over the murders of six British troops in 2003.

    Nine people, mostly Iraqi police officers, were charged with killing the British soldiers in Basra  [GALLO/GETTY]

    Two Iraqi men accused of participating in the mob killing of six British troops in Basra in 2003 have been acquitted by an Iraqi court.

    According to the court ruling on Sunday, the evidence against the two men was not enough to prosecute them.

    Baleagh Hamdi Hikmat, the chief justice, dropped the charges after no eyewitnesses were presented in Baghdad's central criminal court. All of the nine people, mostly Iraqi police officers, who were questioned by the three-judge panel said that they did not witness the killings of the Royal Military Police officers.

    However one of those questioned said he saw one defendant taking the weapon of one of the dead soldiers.

    "He [the man accused of taking the weapon] could have been charged theft," Jane Arraf, a journalist in the Iraqi city Irbil, told Al Jazeera. But the case was not "tried in a way that would satisfy a lot of the families" of dead soldiers, Arraf said.

    British officials say that a mob chased the soldiers into a police station, where they were eventually shot.

    The soldiers were on an assignment to train local police in the town of Al Majar al-Kabir, north of Basra, following the fall of Saddam Hussein's government.

    Eight Iraqis had been arrested earlier this year in connection with the killings, but charges were dropped against all but two men.

    At least 179 British servicemen were killed in Iraq from March 2003 until British forces formally handed over control of their last outposts to the Iraqi military.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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