Army halts court martial into race abuse claims

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THE court martial of five soldiers accused of subjecting a young black rifleman to repeated racial abuse, which was due to begin today, has been halted.

The planned hearing followed a nine-month probe into claims that Bosnia veteran Clive Walker suffered a campaign of bullying at a Royal Green Jackets barracks.

In one incident his tormentors allegedly soaked him with extinguishers and then threatened to scrub him "clean and white". On another occasion they allegedly cut his uniforms and civilian clothes, smashed his locker and trampled on the contents while chanting racist abuse. He also claimed that in a separate incident he was kicked out of the barrack block in his pyjamas.

Mr Walker, the only black soldier in his dormitory, spoke out about the alleged taunts when a sergeant major found him sleeping in another block.

An Army spokeswoman said last night: "The Army Prosecuting Authority has discontinued proceedings against the five soldiers and that is subject to the possible renewal of charges pending further evidence."

The investigation began soon after the 18-year-old was transferred to Bulford Camp, near Salisbury, Wiltshire, after serving a four-month tour with UN peace-keeping forces in the former Yugoslavia.

The alleged offences, including damage to clothes and possessions belonging to Mr Walker, of south London, took place over weeks. The Army spokeswoman said it was possible that the court martial could be rescheduled for a later date, if further evidence was uncovered. She added that the Army takes charges of this nature seriously, and "appropriate action is taken if anyone is found guilty".