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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Blair pledges to improve inquests into UK soldiers killed in Iraq

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, Feb 7, IRNA
UK-Inquests-Iraq Deaths
Prime Minister Tony Blair Wednesday pledged to improve inquests into the deaths of British soldiers killed in Iraq following a dispute over the showing video of US pilots opening fire on UK troops.

"We will look again as a result of what has happened over these past few weeks to make sure, and I hope I can say this with some confidence, that we make sure that in similar such circumstances we are able to deal with it in a better way," Blair said.

An inquest into the 2003 death of Lance Corporal Matty Hull was adjourned last week, after the failure by the Ministry of Defense to release a cockpit recording of the 'friendly fire' incident it still did not have US authorisation to lift its classified status.

But on Tuesday, the UK's top-selling tabloid newspaper, The Sun, published a transcript of the video after it obtained a copy of incident in which Hull was killed when two US Thunderbolt tankbuster planes opened fire on a British military convoy near Basra.

Questioned in parliament, Blair said he deeply regretted the deeply regret 'any additional distress' caused to the family, who had been told that there had been no footage.

"But I do believe the Ministry of Defense did act in good face throughout and of course it is important they make sure that information is given to the families of people concerned," he said.

The prime minister said that lessons should be learned from latest incident and pledged that his government would 'make sure that the additional distress that has now been caused to the family is minimized'.

Opposition Conservative leader David Cameron asked whether the Ministry of Defense ever misled the family by suggesting no tape of the attack existed and demanded that as much help and information as possible should be provided to bereaved families as possible.

He also said that there were other problems including the distance many families have to travel to the coroners' court in Oxford, southern England, where the majority of military inquests take place.

Last year, the government pledged to speed up inquests after it was revealed that the families of more than 50 soldiers killed in Iraq are still waiting for inquests, including 31 dating back to 2003.

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