Seven soldiers face Iraq murder charge

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Seven British Paras have been charged with the murder of an Iraqi civilian, the Government announced today.

Seven British Paras have been charged with the murder of an Iraqi civilian, the Government announced today.

The men will face a court martial for a joint offence of murder and a second joint charge of violent disorder.

The charges relate to the death of Nadhem Abdullah following a roadside incident in May 2003 in Al U'Zayra in southern Iraq.

The seven soldiers were all members of the 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment.

Attorney General Lord Goldsmith named three of the men as Corporal Scott Evans, Private William Nerney and Daniel Harding, who has now left the Army.

The other four men will be named when they have been informed of the charges against them. It is not known if they are still members of the regiment.

In a written statement to the House of Lords, Lord Goldsmith said no date had yet been set for the trial or for a preliminary hearing.

The announcement will be a major blow to the Government and the Army, already reeling from the pictures of British troops allegedly abusing Iraqi looters.

It comes on the day that one of three British soldiers on trial accused of abusing prisoners had a charge against him dropped.

Lance Corporal Darren Larkin, who has already admitted assaulting a civilian prisoner, was also accused of forcing two detainees to strip moments before they were made to simulate sex acts while being photographed by soldiers.

But the abuse charge against Larkin, 30, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, was dropped this morning at a court martial in Germany.

The move came after a key prosecution witness changed his evidence when he appeared before the hearing earlier this week.

A charge against Corporal Daniel Kenyon, 33, from Newcastle upon Tyne, of aiding and abetting Larkin was also dropped.

But Kenyon and Lance Corporal Mark Cooley, 25, also from Newcastle upon Tyne, still faces a series of other prisoner abuse charges.

Today's move means that no soldiers are now being charged with making the Iraqis strip before the photographs were taken.

Larkin pleaded guilty to assault after he was pictured in his boxer shorts standing on top of an Iraqi prisoner.

Another British soldier has been charged with the murder of an Iraqi civilian in a separate incident.

Trooper Kevin Williams, of the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, will stand trial at the Old Bailey accused of killing a man in south eastern Iraq in August 2003.