Family's anger over MoD deaths probe

ANGRY relatives of six British military police massacred in Iraq last night criticised the investigation into their deaths and said they have received virtually no information about how they died.

ANGRY relatives of six British military police massacred in Iraq last night criticised the investigation into their deaths and said they have received virtually no information about how they died.

The families of the Colchester-based servicemen have been told it could take up to three years to be given the answers they want now.

The troops were killed by Iraqis near Basra amid a reported two-hour gun battle in what was the heaviest single combat loss for British forces since the 1991 Gulf War.

The six men died on June 24, seven weeks after the war ended, when an Iraqi mob stormed a police station in the town of Al Majar al-Kabir in Southern Iraq.

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Speaking on Real Story, a BBC One documentary, they said the investigation was taking too long and said their sons had been let down.

Reg Keys, father of Lance-Corporal Thomas Keys, 20, from North Wales, said: "They let those six lads drive into that town lightly armed, with inadequate communications straight into the Valley of Death.

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"There was Thomas and his five brave colleagues standing side by side trying to hold off a frenzied Iraqi mob armed with high velocity weapons, baying for their blood.

"But we believe these six lads held the crowd off for about 40 minutes and this overwhelming horde of Iraqis have just rushed into this station and mowed them down.

"It is horrific to think my 20-year-old son has witnessed this and someone has stood over his body and finished my dear darling son off.

"For parents to come to terms with this after all the trouble and hard work you put in to bring up your son, you hand him over to the Army, yes you accept it can be a hazardous occupation," he added.

The Redcaps were helping to set up a new Iraqi police force but it was reported that two days before the Redcaps were attacked there had been trouble in the area over weapons searches conducted by British Paratroopers.

On the day of the Redcap killings, a patrol of Paratroopers had to be evacuated by helicopter after coming under assault by Iraqis who thought they were carrying out further weapon searches.

Tony Fisher, brother of Sergeant Simon Alexander Hamilton-Jewell, 41, from Surrey, said: "They let six men go into a town lightly armed, no proper radio communications and can't even see there is a problem around them and leave them to die.

"The waste of six lives, the complete waste of six lives. Someone has to answer for that."

Mr Fisher was asked how confident he is that the army report would be true, Mr Fisher said: "On a scale of one to 10, 0.5 because we in three-and-a-half months have received virtually no information."

Mike Aston, father of Corporal Russell Aston, 30, from Derbyshire, said:

"You don't expect to lose your son in a peacekeeping mission. Someone, somewhere in the MoD or the Army got it wrong. If they hadn't of got it wrong our boys would be alive today."

The other soldiers who died were Lance Corporal Ben Hyde, Corporal Paul Long and Corporal Simon Miller.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "The premature release of any information may prejudice the outcome of any future proceedings that may result from the Royal Military Police (RMP's) investigation.

"The RMP fully understand the families' desire for an early conclusion but it is vital to ensure that the investigation is as thorough as possible.

"The RMP has been keeping the nominated next of kin informed of the progress and will continue to do so."

An Army spokeswoman said it could not comment on the situation because the investigation was ongoing.

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