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Iraq Outrage Over US Killing Video

By Aljazeera

07 April, 2010


Families of Iraqi civilians, seen being shot and killed by US forces in a leaked video, are seeking justice for their deaths.

Earlier this week Wikileaks, a whistleblower website that publishes anonymously sourced documents, released a video showing the US military firing at a group of civilians in Baghdad three years ago.

The shooting left 12 people dead, including two employees of the Reuters news agency.

The Pentagon said it had no reason to doubt the authenticity of the tape, but that two investigations into the incident cleared the aircrew of any wrongdoing.

But victims' relatives have told Al Jazeera they want the military personnel responsible for the deaths to be taken to court.

Two young children whose father was killed in the attack could not understand why they were targeted.

"We were coming back and we saw an injured man. My father said, let's take him to hospital. Then I heard only the bullets ... Why did they shoots us? Didn't they see we were children?" said Sajad Mutashar, who was injured along with his sister.

His uncle, Satar, demanded the pilot be taken to court.

"Nobody gave the children anything, their rights are gone and the Americans didn't even compensate for the destroyed car. I sold it for $500 to spend the money treating them," Satar told Al Jazeera.

The US army says it has authorised payments to the family.

'Monster pilot'

The family of Saeed Chamgh, one of the Reuters employee killed in the attack, is also demanding justice for his death.

"The pilot is not human, he's a monster. What did my brother do? What did his children do? Does the pilot accept his kids to be orphans?" Safa Chmagh, Saeed’s brother, told Al Jazeera.

"Inshallah we won't leave his rights."

Salwan Saeed, Saeed's son, said: "The American has broken my back by killing my father.

"I will not let the Americans get away with it.

"I will follow the path of my father and will hold another camera."

A statement from the two inquiries said the aircrew had acted appropriately and followed the rules of engagement.

According to Pentagon investigations into the affair, the aircrew had reason to believe the people seen in the video were anti-government fighters.

But Mark Taylor an international law expert and a director at the Fafo Institute for International Studies in Norway, told Al Jazeera the evidence so far "indicated that there's a case to be made that a war crime may have been committed".

'Case for war crimes'

Taylor said the US authorities, especially the US military, has to take a closer look at this investigation.

"There are questions about the way the investigation was conducted and whether or not it was done in a proper manner," he said.

Taylor said the Iraqi families may be able to get monetary compensation, but that there could be a much larger case to be had.

"There are precedents of US soldiers being prosecuted for crimes in Iraq, for crimes of murder, rape and manslaughter. So it's not unprecedented that this could go forward both in military courts as well as in civilian criminal courts in the US.

"The case also raises larger questions about the laws of war. I think what this video shows is really a case that challenges whether the laws of war are strict enough."

WikiLeaks said it obtained the video from a number of "military whistleblowers".

Watch the Wiki leaks video here




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