Five soldiers arrested for manslaughter

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The Independent Online

Five serving soldiers are being questioned over the death of a 22-year-old serviceman.

The soldier collapsed and died after exercises at around noon yesterday. It was reported initially that he collapsed during exercise on Salisbury Plain, but the Ministry of Defence said later that he was taken ill at his barracks. It is understood that the exercises the soldier was undertaking yesterday shortly before he was taken ill were of an individual nature.

A 44-year-old, a 33-year-old, a 31-year-old and a 28-year-old, all serving with the 2nd Battalion of The Royal Welsh regiment based at Tidworth were arrested by Wiltshire Police on suspicion on manslaughter and were being questioned at Salisbury police station. It was announced this afternoon that a fifth soldier had been held.

According to police, the man collapsed at Lucknow Barracks in Tidworth around noon and was taken by ambulance to Salisbury District Hospital where he died.

Wiltshire Ambulance Service service said they were called to the Queen Elizabeth Medical Centre at the barracks at about lunchtime, where they found the soldier unconscious.

A spokesman said that he came around briefly and was delivered to Salisbury hospital at 1.40pm, but subsequently died.

The soldier was said to have been "hot and agitated" when he was taken to hospital, although the spokesman would not be drawn on reports that he had suffered heat exhaustion.

A post-mortem examination is expected to be carried out by a Home Office pathologist later this afternoon.

The family of the deceased soldier have been informed of the death and are currently going though the final stages of the formal identification process.

Families living in Army housing around Lucknow Barracks were staying tight-lipped following the death. Behind the iron gates, uniformed soldiers went about their morning duties. The only obvious reminder of the death was a Welsh flag being flown at half mast at the camp entrance.

The Ministry of Defence said it was taking the incident "extremely seriously" but added that it was for Wiltshire Police to comment on the investigation.

The 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh recruits from the whole of Wales and has a history of more than 300 years.

The 600-strong battalion is described on its website as "the Welsh Armoured punch" and "at the forefront of Britain's response to world events".

The victim's family are believed to be in Wiltshire today helping with formal identification of the body, but are not from the Wiltshire area.