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UK coroner rules US 2003 Iraq 'friendly fire' attack that killed soldier 'criminal'

[JURIST] British coroner Andrew Walker [Wikipedia profile] ruled Friday that a US A-10 tank-buster "friendly fire" attack on a UK troop convoy that killed UK soldier Matty Hull [Wikipedia profile] "amounted to an assault. It was unlawful because there was no lawful reason for it and in that respect it was criminal." Walker's civilian inquiry, which had for a while been suspended due to a cited lack of cooperation by the US military, was reopened on Monday. In early February, cockpit video footage of the incident [YouTube video] was leaked to the British press, and subsequently declassified.

Walker's inquiry was the third official examination of the circumstances of Hull's death. A 2004 British Army investigation [report, PDF] released last year made a number of recommendations, but concluded that all involved were "working to the best of their abilities, under intense operational pressure." The US State Department placed no blame on the pilots in its own inquiry, rejecting the idea that the incident was criminal [BBC report]. The UK Ministry of Defense issued a statement [text] saying it will carefully consider Walker's comments, and will do everything possible to avoid similar incidents in the future. Reuters has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

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