Soldier charged with murdering Iraqi civilian

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The Independent Online

A British soldier was charged today with the murder of a civilian in Iraq, police said.

Trooper Kevin Lee Williams, 21, from the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, was appearing at Bow Street Magistrates Court this afternoon.

He was arrested this morning and taken to a London police station for questioning.

The move came after detectives were asked to investigate the death of Hassan Said by the Attorney General in May.

Hassan Abbad Said, also known as Hassan Abdul Said, is believed to have been shot while being arrested in the British zone of southern Iraq in August last year.

Detectives from Scotland Yard were asked to investigate the case in May by the Attorney General. A file was prepared and Williams was arrested this morning on this advice of the Crown Prosecution Service.

In a statement released shortly before he was due in court, Scotland Yard said: "Kevin Lee Williams, aged 21, a trooper from the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, has been charged with the murder of Hassan Said, an Iraqi citizen, on or before 3rd August 2003 in Ad-Dayr, Iraq."

Describing the background to the case, Scotland Yard said earlier: "This morning's arrest follows advice from the Crown Prosecution Service.

"Earlier this year, the Attorney General, via the CPS, asked the MPS to investigate the death of Hassan Said...

"An investigation was launched by the Met's Homicide Command, which is part of the Specialist Crime Directorate."

Asked at his monthly Downing Street press conference about allegations of criminality and misconduct against British soldiers in Iraq, Prime Minister Tony Blair said: "There are rules that our soldiers abide by, and incidentally the vast majority of them do the whole time, but anyone who commits a criminal offence will be charged, as we made clear.

"I think the Attorney General may say a little bit more about this in due course."

But Mr Blair stressed: "The vast majority of British soldiers in Iraq, as elsewhere, are absolute heroes who do a fantastic job."