"Friendly fire death was 'criminal'
Friday March 16, 11:11 AM Click to enlarge photo (external - login to view)The friendly fire death of British soldier Matty Hull was unlawful and the result of a criminal attack, a coroner has ruled.
Oxfordshire assistant deputy coroner Andrew Walker criticised the US authorities for failing to co-operate with his investigation and said: "I believe that the full facts have not yet come to light."
He added: "The attack on the convoy amounted to an assault. It was unlawful because there was no lawful reason for it and in that respect it was criminal."
Lance Corporal Hull's widow Susan, who has fought a long battle to establish the truth about her husband's death, burst into tears as Mr Walker delivered his damning verdict.
The inquest, at Oxford's Old Assizes, had heard how the pilot of a US A-10 Tank-buster plane swooped and opened fire on the L/Cpl Hull's armed vehicle convoy in southern Iraq on March 28, 2003.
L/Cpl Hull died in the attack, which happened just three days before his 26th birthday. Four other British soldiers were injured. The British vehicles were clearly marked.
But they were targeted by two US jets who were patrolling the area in search of Iraqi forces. Mr Walker said: "I don't think this was a case of honest mistake. There is no evidence the pilots were acting in self-defence."
On Thursday Mrs Hull made a direct appeal to US president George Bush to help the coroner's inquiry by producing 11 censored lines of an interview between a ground controller and one of the pilots.
She said: "He assured me that he would do all he could to help. "President Bush, this is the last day you can help us. We ask that you give the coroner just one single page."