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UK backtracks on execution allegation

[JURIST] Speaking to reporters in London Friday, a spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair [official website] appeared to backtrack somewhat on the Prime Minister's Thursday allegation [JURIST report] at a Camp David Press conference with President Bush that two dead British soldiers shown on TV had been executed in "flagrant breach" of the laws of war:

Asked to outline the proof the Government had that two British soldiers had been executed, as the Prime Minister had suggested in his joint press conference with President Bush in Washington yesterday, despite the families saying they had been told by the military that that was not the case, the PMOS said that he did not know the details of any conversations that might have taken place between representatives of the military and the families concerned. The information available to us indicated that the soldiers in question might well have been executed. That assessment was drawn from film footage showing that the bodies of the two soldiers had lain some distance from the vehicle in which they had been travelling and that they had been without their issued protective equipment. Put to him that he seemed to be implying that the Government was not 100% certain about what had happened, the PMOS said that our assessment of the information available drew us towards the conclusions we had taken. He added that he did not intend to say anything that was going to make what was clearly a very upsetting circumstance for the families any more difficult. Two soldiers had been killed and their bodies had been paraded on television. That was a terrible thing for anyone to have to deal with. Asked whether the Government would make inquiries into the tragic events, the PMOS said that of course every effort would be made to find out what had happened. But everyone accepted that this was a particularly difficult set of circumstances. Questioned as to whether there was any other evidence which we could use, apart from the video footage, to prove that the soldiers had been executed, the PMOS said that we would obviously try to take account of all possible sources of evidence. However, we had to accept that finding out precisely what had happened would be difficult.
Read the full transcript of the briefing by the PM's spokesman.

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