UK: Troops cleared over Iraq drowning


Richard Moore

This article reminds me of a line from "The Importance of Being Earnest" (Oscar 
Wilde)....Lady Bracknell says, "I know my son has wronged you, but I've decided 
to forgive him."


Original source URL:

Troops cleared over Iraq drowning

Three soldiers have been found not guilty of the manslaughter of an Iraqi boy, 
at a Colchester court martial.

The trio had all denied the manslaughter of 15-year-old Ahmed Jabber Kareem, a 
non-swimmer who drowned in a Basra canal in May 2003.

Sgt Carle Selman, 39, then of the Coldstream Guards, and now with the Scots 
Guards, was cleared.

Guardsman Joseph McCleary, 24, and Guardsman Martin McGing, 22, both of the 
Irish Guards were also cleared.

In May, the court martial found a fourth soldier - L/Cpl James Cook of the Irish
Guards - not guilty by a jury panel of seven senior officers in Colchester on 
the direction of the judge advocate.

He too had denied any involvement in the death.

Mr Kareem was one of four alleged looters stopped by Iraqi police and British 
soldiers and allegedly forced into Shatt al-Basra canal on 8 May 2003.

Speaking after the verdict, Guardsman Martin McGing's solicitor, Fadi Daoud, 
said it was an "ill conceived" case which had left the soldier "embittered".

"[He] has served his country admirably in a difficult environment without any 
proper training during a transitional period between combat operations and 

"Whilst naturally Martin remains embittered by the decision made to prosecute 
him, nonetheless he wants to communicate his total appreciation to his regiment,
the Irish Guards, for their unstinting support through a most difficult period,"
his lawyer said.

Guardsman McGing said he wanted to continue serving his country, most likely 
with the police.

His other lawyer, Jerry Hayes, said the soldiers had been "hung out to dry".

He said: "There were 700,000 people in Basra in 2003 and just 63 military 
police. These brave young soldiers were the difference between anarchy and 

The soldiers had been accused of forcing four suspected looters at gunpoint into
the Shatt al-Basra canal to "teach them a lesson".

The court heard that the dead teenager - who could not swim - struggled in 
"obvious distress" in the canal before disappearing underwater.

Justice has been served and I would like to thank everyone
Guardsman Joseph McCleary

One of the four Iraqis, Aiad Salim Hanon, said he had been beaten repeatedly by 
the soldiers before being driven to the canal.

His evidence was questioned by the defence lawyers when inconsistencies arose.

Sgt Selman's solicitor, Chris Wright, said his client had continued to "fulfil 
his duty with the customary professionalism", during the three years since the 

"He welcomes the wide-ranging support offered from across the Household 
Division: but above all he is relieved his innocence in this matter is 

Guardsman Joseph McCleary, also speaking after the verdicts, said: "Justice has 
been served and I would like to thank everyone. I'm looking forward to going 
home and pleased it's all over."

Army support

The Ministry of Defence said it was "only right and proper" that allegations 
were fully investigated.

"Our soldiers are not above the law and must operate within strict legal 
guidelines at all times," ministry spokesman Col Peter Davies said.

"The Army takes all allegations on the failure to do so extremely seriously.

"In this case that process is now complete, and the soldiers are able to resume 
their military career with the full continuing support of the Army and their 

He added: "Our thoughts are, of course, with Mr Kareem's family at this very 
difficult time."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/06/06 16:24:05 GMT


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