LONDON (AP) – A British court ruled Friday that two Iraqis accused of murdering British soldiers there can be tried in their country, despite a risk they will face the death penalty.
Their lawyer, Phil Shiner, said he would seek to appeal. Faisal Al-Saadoon, 56, and Khalaf Mufdhi, 58, are now held by British forces in Basra. They have resisted having their cases transferred to the Iraqi Higher Tribunal, saying they fear they might be tortured and face the death penalty.
Both men are accused of murdering Staff Sgt. Simon Cullingworth and Sapper Luke Allsopp, both of 33 Engineer Regiment, during the Iraq War in 2003.
British officials allege that the two soldiers were ambushed in southern Iraq by Iraqi militia forces on or around March 23, 2003, were seriously injured, taken captive, and subsequently murdered.
Photographs of the dying soldiers, surrounded by an Iraqi mob, were shown on the Arabic TV channel al-Jazeera.
Lord Justice Stephen Richards and Justice Stephen Silber said their decision, though based on evidence and principal, raised disturbing issues.
“Whilst we have been led … by our analysis of the legal principles and the factual evidence, we are seriously troubled by the result, since on our assessment the claimants, if transferred, will face a real risk of the death penalty in the event that they are convicted by the Iraqi court,” they wrote.