Iraqis accused of murder fail in legal challenge

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The Independent Online

Two Iraqis accused of killing British soldiers today failed to block their handover to the Baghdad authorities for trial and a possible death penalty.

Three appeal court judges ruled that the UK was in breach of its international obligations if it did not allow Iraq to take the men - currently being held by British forces in Basra - into its own custody.



The decision by the Court of Appeal follows an unprecedented ruling from the High Court in London earlier this month that the two men could be handed over despite the "real risk" that they could be executed if found guilty.



Faisal Al-Saadoon, 56, and Khalaf Mufdhi, 58, are accused of murdering Staff Sergeant Simon Cullingworth and Sapper Luke Allsopp during the Iraq war in March 2003.



The two British soldiers were bomb disposal officers who were repeatedly shot before a jeering public after they had been captured when their convoy was ambushed by Fedayeen militiamen on the outskirts of the town of al Zubayr in southern Iraq in March, 2003.



The two Iraqis face war crimes charges.



The Court of Appeal not only refused permission to take the case to the House of Lords but also lifted an order staying any handover pending further court action.



A spokesperson for the Secretary of State for Defence legal team said this meant that the two Iraqis could be transferred to the Iraqi Higher Authority forthwith.



Phil Shiner, the solicitor representing the two Iraqis, said he was in touch with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in an attempt to find a way to stay the handover pending further court action.

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