Friday, October 13, 2006

ITN reporter unlawfully killed, inquest rules




ITN reporter unlawfully killed, inquest rules

Chris Tryhorn
Friday October 13, 2006
MediaGuardian.co.uk


ITN reporter Terry Lloyd was unlawfully killed when he came under fire from American troops in Iraq, a coroner ruled today.

Andrew Walker, the assistant deputy coroner of Oxfordshire, said he would take steps to see if the soldiers responsible could be brought to justice.

"Having carefully taken into account all the evidence I am satisfied so that I am sure that had this killing taken place under English Law it would have constituted an unlawful homicide," Mr Walker said, making his ruling after a six-day inquest in Oxford.

"I shall write to the attorney general and the director of public prosecutions with a view to considering the appropriate steps to bring the persons involved in this incident to justice."

Mr Walker said he was recording a verdict of unlawful killing because Lloyd had been fatally wounded when he was being rescued by a civilian minibus in full view of American tanks.

There was no justification of self defence, he said, as there would have been earlier when the Americans were firing against Iraqi forces. It was only after the minibus stopped to pick up the wounded, including Lloyd, that the Americans opened fire, the coroner added.

Lloyd and three ITN colleagues were caught in crossfire between Iraqi and American forces as they drove towards Basra on March 22 2003, soon after the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Cameraman Daniel Demoustier was the only member of the team to survive, after throwing himself from the car he was sharing with Lloyd.

The inquest heard evidence that Lloyd was shot in the back by the Iraqis and then fatally wounded in the head by fire from a US tank as a civilian vehicle attempted to rescue him.

The other members of the team, translator Hussein Osman and cameraman Fred Nerac went missing in the gunfight. Osman's remains were later traced to the scene, while Nerac's body was never found, though the inquest heard it was likely he had died in the incident.

Summing up the inquest, the coroner said: "It is only now that the sequence of events that led to this tragedy can be discovered, for a tragedy it is when the lives of innocent civilians are lost.

"I am certain that the world is a lesser place following their sad death. Their professionalism and dedication in the face of danger is and can only be admired by those they left behind.

"Preparations were detailed and thorough and began many months before the deployment.

"In my view, on the evidence I have heard, those preparations, from the initial setting of Independent Television News, through their training of staff and equipment, was of the highest possible standard."

David Mannion, the editor-in-chief of ITN, said the company would fully support Lloyd's family to "bring those responsible for Terry's death to account before a court of law".

Speaking after the inquest, Mr Mannion said: "All of us want and need to know the truth. Terry Lloyd was killed in an unlawful act by a US marine who fired directly at the civilian minibus in which Terry, already badly injured, lay helpless.

"But we do not know the identity of the marine who shot him. ITN therefore fully supports the Lloyd family in their pursuit of justice and we welcome the coroner's decision to write to the attorney general and the DPP in an effort to bring those responsible for Terry's death to account before a court of law.

"I would also like to say something that I know Terry would have wished me to say. Independent, unilateral reporting, free from official strictures, is crucial; not simply to us as journalists but to the role we play in a free and democratic society.

"The loss of Terry, Fred and Hussein in pursuit of that aim has had a devastating and permanent effect upon ITN.

"In tribute to Terry, Fred and Hussein, ITN can do no better than quote the words of the coroner himself when he described them as 'men of the highest calibre'.

"Finally, ITN would like to pay particular tribute to our cameraman, Daniel Demoustier, whose evidence underlines how close he came to being killed and whose only thoughts in the immediate aftermath of this terrible tragedy were not for his own safety but for that of his colleagues."

The NUJ general secretary, Jeremy Dear, said: "We welcome the coroner's decision to report his finding to the attorney general and the DPP and believe they should immediately commence proceedings to bring the perpetrators of what is nothing short of a war crime, to justice.

"The killing of journalists with impunity must never, ever go unpunished. Any attempt to silence journalists in this way must never succeed.

"We would also like to again express our deepest sympathy to the family for their tragic loss. The inquest verdict has confirmed what we always suspected: that Terry's death was not an accident in the theatre of war but a callous act of murder."

· To contact the MediaGuardian newsdesk email editor@mediaguardian.co.uk or phone 020 7239 9857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 7278 2332.

· If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly "for publication".


The above found here on the net

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