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thedrifter
10-21-06, 07:59 AM
'US marines killed Terry Lloyd but Government won't help bring them to justice'
By Graeme Wilson, Thomas Harding and Joshua Rozenberg

Last Updated: 1:45am BST 21/10/2006


The family of Terry Lloyd, the ITN war reporter shot dead by US marines in Iraq, last night accused the Government of being "unwilling" to help them bring his killers to justice.

They spoke out as a cross-party coalition of senior MPs urged ministers to respond to a call by the coroner, who ruled that Lloyd had been unlawfully killed, for the soldiers to be brought to trial.

Andrew Walker, the assistant deputy coroner for Oxfordshire, sent a letter to the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Attorney General yesterday urging them to see if it is possible to "bring the perpetrators responsible for this to justice".

Despite his intervention, the Foreign Office said that if the family wanted to pursue a private prosecution "that is for them to do under their own steam".

A spokesman added: "This is something the family have to talk to the US administration about."
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The Government's stance was condemned as "shocking and disappointing" by Louis Charalambous, the Lloyd family's solicitor.

He said the Foreign Office "appears unwilling to lift a finger to help the family to get details of the marines responsible for the killing. . . the much vaunted special relationship appears to be all one way."

Friends of the Lloyd family said they want the marines re-interviewed by military prosecutors and then consideration given to extraditing them to Britain for trial under the War Crimes Act.

"We would like to see prosecution for murder of the troops involved in this case," one said.

Lloyd's widow, Lynn, has asked for a meeting with Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, and wants him to pressure the American military to allow access to the marines. After the inquest the journalist's daughter, Chelsey, condemned his killing as a "despicable, deliberate and vengeful act".

Lloyd was wounded after being caught in a gun battle between US marines and Iraqi fighters in 2003.

He was then shot in the head and killed as he was being driven away in a minibus for treatment.

The death was initially investigated by the Royal Military Police. Statements were taken from the US marines but their names, which were blanked out at the inquest, have not been released.

Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat leader, said the fact that there was television footage of the incident meant there was a prima facie case for extraditing the marines to stand trial in Britain.

Sir Menzies stressed that the Government must put pressure on the Americans to deal with the issue. "This is an issue which is as much about diplomacy as about due process," he said.

Dominic Grieve, the shadow attorney general, said: "If the CPS believes this was an unlawful killing, then they should bring it to the attention of the American authorities and press them to prosecute."

Gerald Howarth, the shadow defence minister, said the Government had an obligation to investigate whether there were grounds for a prosecution and urge the Americans to act.

"We have been fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with these guys and I think the Americans need to realise that their failure to respond to these sorts of issues really damages confidence," he said.

Peter Kilfoyle, the former Labour defence minister, said it was vital the Government stood up for Lloyd's family.

"There is a moral obligation for the Government to act on the coroner's letter," he said.

''I sincerely hope the British Government will use diplomatic pressure to make sure these people are arraigned."

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said yesterday that the Director of Public Prosecutions had not yet received the coroner's letter. When it arrived, the CPS would decide whether to ask the police to launch an investigation.

In considering how to proceed, the CPS will consider whether an offence has been committed under English law, whether proceedings would be in the public interest, and whether it would be possible to identify and prosecute individual defendants.

Murder or manslaughter committed abroad by a non-British citizen is not an offence under English law, even if the victim is British.

But the Geneva Conventions Act 1957 applies to "any person, whatever his nationality. . . whether in or outside the United Kingdom".

Passed, somewhat belatedly, to allow Britain to ratify the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 for the protection of victims of war, the 1957 Act makes it an offence for anyone to commit a "grave breach" of one of the conventions.

It is arguable that this would include deliberately targeting a non-combatant.

However, the problem for the British authorities is in identifying the US troops regarded as responsible for killing Lloyd.

Since the US authorities take the view that their troops acted lawfully, they are unlikely to identify those responsible and surrender them for trial in a foreign court.

Ellie