UK troops accused over two Iraq deaths

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The Independent Online

British troops have been accused of another two allegedly illegal killings of civilians in southern Iraq, according to legal documents seen by The Independent on Sunday.

Lawyers acting for the families of nearly 30 Iraqis who either died or were allegedly tortured at the hands of British soldiers in the last 12 months have also accused the military of leaving one man to die on the road.

A firm of solicitors in Birmingham, Public Interest Lawyers, claims that Azhar Fawzi Hashim was fatally shot by a British unit during a fracas in August, and that the soldiers searched him as he lay wounded on the ground. They allegedly refused pleas from his family to take him to hospital, and he died.

In the second case, a bystander called Qassim Hamid Nassir was shot in October when British troops opened fire on a demonstration. He died in hospital. After initially denying responsibility, British officers later paid out 2m dinars (£660) in compensation.

The allegations follow Friday's announcement that a fifth British soldier has been charged with offences in Iraq.

The Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, said a private in the King's Own Scottish Borderers, Alexander Johnston, faces a court martial after allegedly wounding an Iraqi boy who was running errands for the British Army on 15 September last year.

The 13-year-old - whose identity is protected - suffered serious, permanent injuries after being accidentally shot, and was flown to a British hospital for treatment.

The IoS has learnt that the Army Prosecuting Authority - the military equivalent of the Crown Prosecution Service - now has another two cases that are likely to see charges against British troops on their books, taking the total number being prepared by the APA to six. The Attorney General's office has, however, refused to release any further details about these cases.