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British court-martial hears of killing, beating of Iraqi civilians by paratroopers

[JURIST] A prosecutor argued at the opening of a much-anticipated [JURIST report] British court-martial [Wikipedia backgrounder] Monday that seven British paratroopers patrolling in southern Iraq in 2003 killed an Iraqi civilian and abused others after stopping a truck carrying them three weeks after hostilities had officially ended. Nadhem Abdullah was said to have beaten at the scene by the British soldiers "using their fists, their feet, their helmets and their rifles" and later died of his injuries on the way to hospital. The soldiers were never threatened or in any danger, said Michael Heslop, QC:

This is not a case of soldiers responding to an attack nor being required to defend themselves in an operational engagement. This was I am afraid to say nothing more than gratuitous violence meted out to a number of innocent and unarmed Iraqi civilians... These assaults were unjustified and wholly unprovoked.
This is first trial of British soldiers for the killing of an Iraqi civilian; the trial could last for more than two months. The Times of London has more.

Are British soldiers in Iraq being put under too many legal constraints, or should prosecutions like this be encouraged? E-mail us at JURIST@law.pitt.edu.

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