8 September 2005 Edition
Paras court martial opens
On the very day that the Article 7 — End Impunity Campaign was launched, seven serving and former British paratroopers appeared before a court martial accused of the torture and murder of Iraqi civilians.
They are Private Daniel Harding, Private Scott Jackson and Private Roberto Di-Gregorio, formerly of the 3rd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, and Private Billy Nerney, Private Samuel May, Private Morné Vosloo and Corporal Scott Evans. All deny charges of murder and violent disorder
One the first day of the proceedings on Monday, the court heard how in May 2003 — three weeks after the end of hostilities, the seven arrived in Al-Ferkah, a small village in two vehicles and allegedly launched an unprovoked attack on a group of Iraqi civilians who were returning from a market. The assault "with helmets, rifle butts, fists and feet" left 18-year old Nadhem Abdullah with fatal injuries. Two women who tried to intervene, one of whom was pregnant, were also attacked and injured.
The soldiers had been on patrol to stop what were referred to as "Ali Ba Bas" from smuggling money through Iran when they followed the Toyota truck and began to attack its occupants. The prosecuting counsel, Martin Heslop QC, told the court how witnesses had described the soldiers as "laughing and clapping their hands" during the attack.