Miller was murdered in 'cold blood', inquest told

By Caroline Gammell, PA

The shooting of British documentary film-maker James Miller in the Gaza Strip was "cold-blooded murder”, a security expert told an inquest this week.

Miller, 34, was shot by a soldier from the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) while making a film about Palestinian children in the Rafah refugee camp in May 2003.

He was trying to ask the soldiers if it was safe to leave the area when he was fatally shot in the neck.

His colleagues, a reporter and an interpreter, were only metres from Miller when he fell to the ground.

Giving evidence at his inquest in London, former weapons inspector Chris Cobb-Smith said there was no way the soldier had fired by accident.

"This was calculated and cold-blooded murder, without a shadow of a doubt,"

he said.

"These shots were not fired by a soldier who was frightened, not fired by a soldier facing incoming fire — these were slow, deliberate, calculated and aimed shots.”

The 10-member inquest jury heard how Miller had been wearing a helmet and flak jacket with the letters "TV"

written in bright fluorescent tape as he approached the soldiers at around 11pm on 2 May, 2003.

He was holding a torch which shone on a large white flag being held by his interpreter.

A shot was fired, followed by a second fatal shot 12 to 13 seconds later.

Several more shots were fired at seven to 12-second intervals, hitting the building, nicknamed the journalists’

house, from which the TV crew had emerged.

Cobb-Smith said this illustrated that the shots were deliberate.

Miller’s family, including his 35-yearold widow Sophy, his parents, Geoffrey and Eileen, as well as his sisters, Katie and Anne, and brother, John, attended the second day of the inquest.

His widow and both sisters fled the coroner’s court as footage of the shooting was replayed.

The inquest jury was shown a film titled Killing Is Easy, which also explored the death of cameraman Tom Hurndall, who was shot a mile from where Miller died only three weeks before.

The Israeli forces, who did not wish to take part in the inquest, were also accused of bulldozing the site of the shooting three days later, thereby destroying crucial evidence.

BBC journalist John Sweeney, a friend of Miller, told the inquest the shooting was linked to a soldier from the Bedouin Desert Reconnaissance Battalion, whom he named as First Lieutenant Hib al Haib.

The journalist said Haib was the name of a clan, and others with the same name had been linked to other killings.

The inquest continues.

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