UK Coroner Declares U.S. Forces Killed Brit TV Reporter

Brian Zick

Thomas Wagner for AP reports OXFORD, England - A coroner ruled Friday that U.S. forces in Iraq unlawfully killed a British television journalist by shooting him in the head as he lay in the back of a makeshift ambulance during the opening days of the war.The widow of reporter Terry Lloyd called for the perpetrators to be prosecuted for the "despicable, deliberate, vengeful act." And Deputy Coroner Andrew Walker said he would ask the attorney general to take steps to bring to justice those responsible for the death.But prosecution of U.S. service members seemed unlikely.Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros, a Pentagon spokesman, said an investigation into the killing of Lloyd, 50, a veteran reporter for the British TV network ITN was completed in May 2003 and "determined that U.S. forces followed the applicable rules of engagement." (…) Aidan White, the head of the International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest organization of journalists, said: "If this was murder, as the court suggests, and the U.S. is responsible, it is certainly a war crime."The London-based National Union of Journalists welcomed the coroner's decision and also called the killing "nothing short of a war crime." Jeremy Dear, the group's general secretary, said: "The killing of journalists with impunity must never, ever go unpunished. Any attempt to silence journalists in this way must never succeed."Witnesses testified during the inquest that Lloyd — who was driving toward the southern Iraqi city of Basra with fellow ITN reporters — was shot by Iraqi troops who overtook his car, then died after U.S. fire hit a civilian minivan being used as an ambulance and struck him in the head."Terry Lloyd died following a gunshot wound to the head. The evidence this bullet was fired by the Americans is overwhelming," Walker said. "There is no doubt that the minibus presented no threat to the American forces. There is no doubt it was an unlawful act of fire." (…) U.S. authorities didn't allow servicemen to testify at the inquest. Several submitted anonymous statements that the coroner ruled inadmissible."I should have heard all evidence from the American personnel," Walker said. "It was not satisfactory or appropriate to read these statements in place of that evidence."The court watched a video Tuesday, filmed by a U.S. serviceman attached to one of the tanks accused of firing at the reporters' cars. The tape opens with images of Lloyd's vehicle and the Iraqi truck burning amid gunfire. The tanks drive to the cars and inspect them. A minivan — possibly the ambulance — appears and more shots are fired. At the end of the tape, a U.S. soldier shouts, "It's some media personnel! That's media down there!"A forensic examiner said the first 15 minutes of the tape may have been erased.

Subscribe and Save 66%

Less than $1.67 an issue