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British soldiers must help investigate Iraqi teen’s death

BRITISH soldiers must help an investigation into the drowning of an Iraqi teenager, a retired High Court judge has said.

Iraq Fatality Investigations (IFI) chief Sir George Newman wants to meet the soldiers’ lawyers to discuss his probe into the death of 18-year-old Saeed Shabram. 

The teenager drowned in May 2003 following contact with Royal Engineers stationed in Basra.

They are alleged to have forced Mr Shabram, who could not swim, into the Shatt al-Arab river.

His body was only retrieved after Mr Shabram’s father paid for a diver to conduct a search.

The IFI probe is not a criminal investigation.

Mr Newman said: “[The soldiers] will enjoy the protection provided by the attorney general and the public prosecutor of the International Criminal Court against any evidence they give being used against them should there be any future prosecution in connection with these events.” 

In an update published this month, Mr Newman said: “Soldiers with full knowledge of the evidence from Iraqi witnesses concerning what happened and what actions they took have provided no information since 2004.”

He added: “Those present have to state what they saw and did … the areas for assistance from the witnesses is not complex … There is no reason for them not to respond.”

In 2011 the Ministry of Defence (MoD) made an out-of-court settlement with the family, awarding £100,000 in compensation but denying any liability for the death.

However, that settlement did not discharge the government’s responsibility to conduct an investigation that complied with human rights law.

The IFI inquiry is the eighth attempt, with previous probes being judged inadequate.

The repeated investigations have angered the soldiers involved who say they have been cleared each time.

One of the men, Major Robert Campbell, later served in Afghanistan where he was severely injured.

He now walks with a cane, is permanently disabled and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mr Campbell has said he may not have done the Afghan tour if he knew investigations into him would carry on.

“I might not have continued fighting and fucking dying for these wankers,” he has said.

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