LONDON, (Reuters) – The death of a British soldier mistakenly killed by a U.S. air strike in Iraq four years ago was “unlawful and criminal” and “entirely avoidable”, a British inquest found on Friday, media reports said.
Coroner Andrew Walker, who suspended the inquest when Washington initially refused to allow him to see a cockpit video of the incident, said he believed the full facts of Lance Corporal Matty Hull’s death were not yet known, reports said. No one was immediately available at the coroner’s office. Hull was killed by a U.S. air strike in Basra, southern Iraq, in March 2003 after pilots mistook orange panels on British vehicles for Iraqi missile launchers.
The case has exposed apparent differences in the two allies’ procedures, and raised tempers in Britain.
A U.S. probe exonerated the American pilots, but a British military board of inquiry concluded procedures were not followed because the pilots did not seek clearance from ground controllers before opening fire.
Walker had suspended the inquest because the United States had refused to allow the classified video to be shown. He resumed hearings last month after a copy of the video was leaked to The Sun newspaper and aired widely on British media.
Washington later released it and it was played privately for Hull’s family and the coroner, although not in open court.
No American witnesses gave evidence, despite repeated requests for them to cooperate more fully.