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Iraqis cleared over Red Cap deaths

Relatives of six Royal Military Police officers murdered in Iraq in 2003 spoke of their disappointment after being informed five suspects will not stand trial.

A judge's decision that there was insufficient evidence against the men came after a hard fought campaign by families of the Red Caps to bring their killers to justice.

Iraqi authorities arrested a number of suspects after issuing warrants in 2006 but only two remain under investigation.

Armed forces minister Nick Harvey wrote to the victims' families last week to explain the ruling and said the two were expected to go on trial for the murders.

The six RMP officers were Sergeant Simon Hamilton-Jewell, 41, from Chessington, Surrey; Corporal Russell Aston, 30, from Swadlincote, Derbyshire; Corporal Paul Long, 24, of South Shields, Tyne and Wear; Lance Corporal Benjamin McGowan Hyde, 23, from Northallerton, North Yorkshire; Lance Corporal Tom Keys, 20, from Bala, North Wales; and Corporal Simon Miller, 21, from Washington, Tyne and Wear.

L/Cpl Hyde's father John said the news had come as a blow after hopes were finally raised that prosecutions would result from the arrests amid an investigation beset by repeated delays.

Of the importance of seeing justice, he said: "It's not going to make us feel differently emotionally but it would show us a will on the part of the Iraqi government to uphold what our lads died fighting for, which is a free and democratic Iraq."

He added: "To be honest it looks like there is very little will on the part of the Iraqi government to pursue any of these cases."

Mr Hyde, 62, said he also sensed a "slow stand down" within the British Government towards the case, with future communication coming from the Army rather than ministers and changes in plans for access to or viewing of the trial.

The Army Red Caps were killed after a 400-strong Iraqi mob descended on a police station in Majar al-Kabir in June 2003.


From Belfast Telegraph