Airman charged with five Iraqi deaths

By Liz HearnshawA SENIOR aircraftman from Suffolk has been charged with causing the deaths of five Iraqi civilians by dangerous driving.The Attorney General Lord Goldsmith confirmed yesterday that James Bowskill, a member of 2 Squadron RAF Regiment based at RAF Honington, near Bury St Edmunds, would face a court martial over the incident.

By Liz Hearnshaw

A SENIOR aircraftman from Suffolk has been charged with causing the deaths of five Iraqi civilians by dangerous driving.

The Attorney General Lord Goldsmith confirmed yesterday that James Bowskill, a member of 2 Squadron RAF Regiment based at RAF Honington, near Bury St Edmunds, would face a court martial over the incident.

Bowskill, who will appear at the Military Court Centre in Colchester next month, is accused of “driving a vehicle dangerously on the road, causing the deaths of five Iraqi civilians” following an accident near Basra last year.


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Details of the age and home address of Bowskill, a senior RAF aircraftman, have not been released.

Little information about the accident has been made public, but it is thought the charges relate to an incident near Basra when five Iraqi women were killed after their taxi was involved in a collision with an Army vehicle, believed to be a Land Rover.

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A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said last night: “The RAF is confirming that a serviceman will be appearing before a general court martial on April 4 at Colchester Military Court Centre.

“The RAF will not comment until the court martial is concluded. The RAF will consider appropriate action at the conclusion of the court martial.”

Members of 2 Squadron, which specialises in ground defence with airborne capability, have been among hundreds of airmen from RAF Honington deployed to Iraq.

Servicemen from the unit have flown to the Middle East several times since the conflict began, with many beginning a four-month stint in January 2004 after receiving specialist training to allow them to cope with Basra's urban environment.

The accident that lead to the deaths of the civilians happened just a month later on February 3, 2004.

In a written statement given to the House of Lords yesterday, Attorney General Lord Goldsmith said: “In June 2004 I advised of my superintendence over the Army Prosecuting Authority and undertook to inform the House of criminal proceedings against soldiers arising out of incidents in Iraq.

“I also superintend the RAF and Naval Prosecuting Authorities and am accountable to Parliament for any prosecutions decisions.

“It is therefore appropriate that I advise the House that senior aircraftman James Alexander Bowskill, of 2 Squadron RAF Regiment, based at Royal Air Force Station Honington, has been charged with an offence contrary to section 1 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.”

He added: “The charge reads that Bowskill drove a vehicle dangerously on a road, causing the deaths of five Iraqi civilians.

“The incident occurred in the vicinity of Basra, Iraq, on February 3, 2004. The court martial will take place on April 4, 2005, at the Military Court Centre in Colchester.”

No-one was available for comment from RAF Honington last night.

liz.hearnshaw@eadt.co.uk

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