Charges dropped in tragic death of six Red Caps

CHARGES against two Iraqis accused of the murders of six British military policemen more than seven years ago were dropped by a judge in Baghdad.

The Red Caps were killed when a mob of about 400 people attacked a police station in Majar al-Kabir, southern Iraq in June 2003.

Hamza Hateer and Mussa Ismael al Fartusi were due to stand trail at the central criminal court in Baghdad but the case was dropped at a hearing.

Chief Justice Baleagh Hamdi Hikmat reportedly dropped the charges saying there was not enough evidence to prosecute.

The judge adjourned a hearing last month to give witnesses time to travel but no eyewitnesses were brought into court today.

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The three-judge panel questioned nine people - mostly Iraqi police - but none said they saw the killings of the Royal Military Police officers near Basra.

The Red Caps had been training local Iraqi officers when the police station came under attack on June 24, 2003.

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An inquest in March 2006 heard that some of their bodies were found riddled with bullets, while others had marks that suggested they had been dragged, tied up or beaten with rifles.

Coroner Nicholas Gardiner recorded a narrative verdict of unlawful killing, saying the six soldiers should have been better equipped but their deaths could not have been avoided.

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