Families' anger over Red Caps' deaths

FAMILIES of six Red Caps murdered in Iraq have pledged to take their fight for justice to Britain's top police officer after an inquest revealed a string of disastrous military failures.

FAMILIES of six Red Caps murdered in Iraq have pledged to take their fight for justice to Britain's top police officer after an inquest revealed a string of disastrous military failures.

The bereaved relatives are asking Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair to launch a criminal investigation into the deaths of the Colchester-based Royal Military Policemen.

They said last night an “astonishing” lack of communications equipment, soldiers disobeying orders and a poor command structure in the field had led directly to the six deaths in June 2003.

The bullet-riddled bodies of the servicemen were found at a police station in the southern Iraqi town of Al Majar al Kabir.

They were murdered by a gang of hundreds of young Iraqis armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

Following the three-week inquest into the deaths, Oxfordshire Coroner Nicholas Gardiner said he would be writing to Defence Secretary John Reid with a series of recommendations about soldiers' equipment and procedures.

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He recorded a verdict of unlawful killing of the six men, which included Cpl Paul Long, 24, who was from Colchester.

Families of the Red Caps have long campaigned to discover the whole truth of the incident and last night said they would continue their fight until those responsible were punished.

Reg Keys, whose son Tom was just 20 when he died, said: “Truth and justice have a habit of coming to the surface eventually with persistence and believe me, among these families there is persistence if nothing else.”

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