The father of a Red Cap killed by a mob in the Iraq war has told Channel 4 News “this is the gratitude Iraq has shown us” after a judge in Baghdad dropped charges against two accused men.
Two Iraqis accused of the murders of six British military policemen at the start of the Iraq war have been told by a judge the charges have been dropped.
The Red Caps died after a mob of an estimated 400 people attacked a police station in Majar al-Kabir, southern Iraq, in June 2003. They had been training local Iraqi officers when the police station came under attack.
Hamza Hateer and Mussa Ismael al Fartusi were due to begin their trial at the central criminal court in Baghdad. But Chief Justice Baleagh Hamdi Hikmat decided there was not enough evidence to prosecute.
I don’t think this was an actual court case at all – just a formality. Byron Long
Byron Long, the brother of Corporal Paul Graham Long who died in the attack, has told Channel 4 News he fears the campaign for justice will now fade away.
He said: “I don’t know what will happen now. Who would we go to?
“There’s nothing we could do now that would get any results. I don’t think this was an actual court case at all – just a formality.”
Cpl Long’s mother Pat Long added: “Why did they have them in [custody] for so long if they were going to aquit them?
“Nothing will bring Paul back but I think the perpetrators should have had justice done to them. Let’s hope that with the other warrants that are out, we’ll get some more hope.”
John Miller, father of another victim, Corporal Simon Miller, has told Channel 4 News: “I’d like to look the Iraqis in the eyes and say “thankyou”, that’s the gratitude the Iraqi people have shown the British – at the first opportunity they’ve thrown it back in our face.”
The judge adjourned a hearing last month to give witnesses time to travel but no eyewitnesses were brought into court. The three-judge panel questioned nine people but none said they saw the killings of the Royal Military Police officers near Basra.
'That's the gratitude the Iraqi people have shown the British', John Miller tells Channel 4 News
I'm waiting for an update from the Ministry of Defence - I want to see a full report on what's gone on.
We knew this case was coming up a week ago but we have not heard anything from the MoD since. There are still several remaining arrest warrants but I don't know what will happen now.
I would have gone to Baghdad if I could have. The MoD have reneged on two promises - that they would take me there or that they would get me a video link.
I'd like to look the Iraqis in the eyes and say "thankyou", that's the gratitude the Iraqi people have shown the British - at the first opportunity they've thrown it back in our face.
I'm very close to Mike Aston and Reg Keys (fathers of two of the other Red Caps who died) and, me personally, I'm still campaigning over what happened.
John Miller's son Corporal Simon Miller died on June 24 2003. He was aged 21, from Washington in Tyne and Wear.
That’s the gratitude the Iraqi people have shown the British – at the first opportunity they’ve thrown it back in our face. John Miller
An inquest in March 2006 heard that some of the men’s bodies were found riddled with bullets, while others had marks that suggested they had been dragged, tied up or beaten with rifles.
Coroner Nicholas Gardiner recorded a narrative verdict of unlawful killing, saying the six soldiers should have been better equipped but their deaths could not have been avoided.
Sergeant Simon Hamilton-Jewell, 41, from Chessington, Surrey; Corporal Russell Aston, 30, from Swadlincote, Derbyshire; Corporal Paul Long, 24, of South Shields, Tyne and Wear; Lance Corporal Tom Keys, 20, from Bala, North Wales; Corporal Simon Miller, 21, from Washington, Tyne and Wear; and Lance Corporal Benjamin Hyde, 23, from Northallerton, North Yorkshire.