Sunday, October 28, 2007

MoD criticised at 'friendly fire' inquest

Last Updated: 12:12am BST 27/10/2007

A coroner criticised the Ministry of Defence yesterday for withholding information on the shooting of a soldier killed by "friendly fire" in Iraq.

Andrew Walker, the Oxfordshire assistant deputy coroner, said the family of Cpl John Cosby had to "fight every step of the way" for documents surrounding his death in Basra last year.
Cpl Cosby, 28, of the Devon and Dorset Light Infantry, was shot in the head as his platoon raided a house. The inquest at Oxford Old Assizes has heard it was believed the fatal shot was fired by Cpl Dean Newark, of the Royal Anglian Regiment, who was returning fire from an Iraqi insurgent.

Mr Walker told the inquest: "Cpl Cosby lost his life during a terrorist attack all the more tragic as he fell under fire from British soldiers.

"I have no doubt that his loss will be keenly felt by his family. If this were not enough to bear they have had to fight every step of the way to have sight of documents to help them understand what had happened.

"I would have thought that it would not be necessary yet again to draw attention to the fact that at the heart of this inquest, and every inquest, there is a grieving family who simply want to understand what happened."

Mr Walker described the Army's investigation into Cpl Cosby's death as "heavily flawed". A bullet fragment from his body armour was lost during the investigation, which was carried out by a sergeant who admitted that he was not properly qualified.

Cpl Cosby's clothes were burned in Iraq and investigators were unable to interview witnesses as they were given no armed protection to go into Basra.

Mr Walker made no criticism of Cpl Newark who, he said, fired in self-defence and had followed the Army's rules of engagement for such an operation. He recorded a narrative verdict.

• The US army has agreed to pay $650,000 (£318,000) compensation to three British military police injured when their Land Rover has hit by an American lorry in Iraq in 2003. It is the first time that allied troops have claimed compensation for injuries sustained in a "non-combat situation".

reprinted with permission

No comments: