Five Iraqis cleared, two on trial for British soldier deaths

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Five Iraqis have been cleared of involvement in the deaths of six British soldiers at the hands of a mob in 2003, but two others will go on trial, the Ministry of Defence in London said Sunday.

An Iraqi investigating judge found that five suspects arrested earlier this year had "no case to answer" over the deaths of the British military policemen in southern Iraq, and they have been released, an MoD spokesman said.

Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey wrote to the families of the dead soldiers informing them of the decision, and saying that two remaining suspects are now expected to face trial in Iraq.

"The judge indicated that, pending confirmation of the identity of one of the remaining two suspects in custody, both will face trial," Harvey wrote.

In one of the British military's bloodiest episodes of recent times, the soldiers were killed after becoming trapped in a police station they had been due to re-equip following looting in Al-Majar al-Kabir on June 24, 2003.

In March 2006, a British coroner recorded a verdict of unlawful killing but did not apportion blame. He said they should have been better equipped but said their deaths could not have been avoided.

Responding to the Iraqi judge's decision, the MoD spokesman said: "The UK government is committed to seeing the killers of the six Royal Military Policemen brought to justice and our thoughts remain with the families throughout this difficult process."

© 2010 AFP

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