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UK judge drops murder, abuse charges against soldiers in Iraqi civilian death

[JURIST] A UK judge has directed court-martial panel members to issue a 'not guilty' verdict for all seven British soldiers charged with the murdering an Iraqi civilian in southern Iraq. The seven paratroopers were accused of killing [JURIST report] an Iraqi civilian and abusing others three weeks after hostilities had officially ended. According to witnesses offered by the prosecution, the officers stopped a truck carrying the civilians and shortly thereafter dragged the deceased out and began hitting him with their fists and rifles. However, presiding Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett [official biography] said upon dismissing the case that it became clear "that the main Iraqi witnesses had colluded to exaggerate and lie about the incident." The court heard evidence that some alleged witness were paid $100 a day to give evidence at the trial. To date, the trial has cost UK taxpayers an estimated £10m. Human rights groups such as Amnesty International have heavily criticized the trial [BBC report], saying courts-martial should not be used to try crimes under international law. BBC News has more.

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