US troops should be prosecuted for Lloyd killing, coroner rules

PA Mediapoint

ITN reporter Terry Lloyd was unlawfully killed by US forces working in southern Iraq, a coroner has found.

Oxfordshire Assistant Deputy Coroner Andrew Walker said he would write to the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions "to see whether any steps can be taken to bring the perpetrators responsible for this to justice".

Lloyd, 50, was killed, together with Lebanese interpreter Hussein Osman and French cameraman Fred Nerac, near the Shatt al Basra Bridge outside Iraq's second city of Basra on March 22, 2003, the coroner said.

Lloyd was shot in the back after getting caught up in US and Iraqi crossfire, then shot in the head by American forces as he was taken away in a minibus for medical treatment.

Walker said: "I have no doubt that it was an unlawful act to fire on this minibus."

During the eight-day inquest into the reporter's death, Walker heard how Mr Lloyd and his team had crossed from Kuwait into Iraq as one of ITN's few unilateral teams, where journalists work independently of the armed forces.

Their brief was to travel towards Basra, interviewing civilians in the wake of the coalition troops on their feelings about the conflict.

But they crossed over the frontline in the fierce battle for Basra and ran into Iraqi soldiers.

According to local witnesses, Osman and Nerac were arrested and put into an Iraqi pick-up truck with a mounted machine gun, which then opened fire on Lloyd and cameraman Daniel Demoustier's 4×4 vehicle.

American tanks lined up along the road then began to fire on the entire convoy, until first the Iraqi pick-up then Lloyd's 4×4 burst into flames.

Demoustier returned to the inquest to tell how, as "all hell broke loose", he drove his burning vehicle blindly forwards before turning to find Lloyd had disappeared.

Ballistics expert Dr Thomas Warlow said Lloyd was first hit by an Iraqi bullet fired from the pick-up truck, which he could have survived with rapid medical treatment.

But he was then hit in the head by an American bullet as he was taken for medical treatment in a civilian minibus, which killed him outright.

His body was recovered and returned to his family in Cuddington, Buckinghamshire, while the remains of Mr Osman were later found and buried.

Mr Nerac is still officially classed as missing.

Walker said it was his view that the American tanks had been first to open fire on the two TV trucks and an Iraqi pick-up vehicle with mounted machine gun that had intercepted them.

He went on that, had Lloyd died following a shot fired in the first stage of fighting, even though he was travelling in a clearly-marked TV vehicle, he would have conceded that the American act was one of "self-defence" and would not consider it an unlawful act.

He said: "In fact, the wound he received (then) was, with appropriate skilled medical attention, survivable."

In fact, he said, the Americans opened fire on the minibus even though, he was satisfied, it "presented no threat to American forces" since it was a civilian vehicle, had stopped and turned around to pick up survivors, and was facing away from the US tanks.

He said: "If the vehicle was perceived as a threat, it would have been fired on before it did a U-turn. This would have resulted in damage to the front of the vehicle.

"I have no doubt it was the fact that the vehicle stopped to pick up survivors that prompted the Americans to fire on that vehicle."

A spokesman for the Attorney General, who explained he could not comment further about the case, said: "We await the letter from the coroner."

Related links:

Inquest is told Lloyd was "unlawfully killed" by US forces (Thursday 12 October)

Missing segment from military video after ITN man killing (Tuesday 10 October)

Lloyd inquest: ITN was warned of the dangers (Monday 9 October)

Cameraman's plea to save Terry Lloyd (Friday 6 October)

British military 'may have held back details' of Terry Lloyd's death (Tuesday 3 October)

NUJ speaks out on eve of Terry Lloyd inquest (Monday 2 October)


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