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British inquiry rules britain unlawfully killed by idf soldier

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Last update - 13:18 11/04/2006
U.K. coroner recommends war crimes charges for IDF soldiers

By Associated Press

A U.K. coroner said on Monday that he would recommend that the British attorney general seek legal action over the deaths of two pro-Palestinian activists killed by Israel Defense Forces fire in 2003.

The statements came after a British inquest jury ruled that Tom Hurndall was unlawfully killed by an IDF soldier in the Gaza Strip. It was the second time in two weeks that a British coroner's court had ruled that a U.K. citizen shot by Israeli soldiers in 2003 was unlawfully killed.

In the Monday decision, jurors at a London coroner's court concluded that Hurndall, 22, was shot intentionally with the intent to kill by an IDF marksman in April 2003.

The U.K. daily the Guardian reported that coroner Andrew Reid would write to the attorney general suggesting he seek war crimes charges against five IDF officers through Geneva Conventions Act regulations on when soldiers can and cannot shoot.

A British government source said after the verdict that "upsetting the Israelis" would not keep the government from pursuing the case, the British daily reported.

Dr. Reid said that the IDF poses a danger to British citizens, according to the Guardian. The report also said that Hurdnell's family is pursuing meetings with government officials to urge them to seek action.

Last week, a coroner's jury determined that British filmmaker James Miller, 34, was murdered by an IDF soldier in the town of Rafah in May 2003. The soldier was cleared by a military court last year.

Hurndall fell into a coma following the shooting and died nine months later. His family claim Israeli authorities initially denied responsibility.

Sgt. Taysir Hayb was convicted by an Israeli military court of manslaughter and sentenced to seven years in prison. He was jailed for an additional year for obstruction of justice for attempting to cover up his actions in testimony to investigators.

The case was the first in which a soldier was found guilty of killing a foreign citizen during the current intifada.

"He was shot intentionally with the intention of killing him," the inquest jury of five men and five women said in a written verdict. The jury noted with dismay "the lack of cooperation from the Israeli authorities."

Anthony Hurndall, Tom's father, told the London inquest Israeli authorities had "lied continuously." "It was a case of them shooting civilians and then making up a story. And they were not used to being challenged," he said.

Hurndall, a student, was photographing the work of the International Solidarity Movement, whose activists often placed themselves between Israeli forces and Palestinians to try to stop the Israeli military from carrying out operations, ignoring orders to leave no-go areas.

Israeli authorities said the protesters endangered themselves and the soldiers with their activities.

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