Hope for families of Red Caps

THE families of six Colchester-based military policemen murdered in Iraq seven years ago said they hope justice will be done after eight people were arrested in connection with the killings.

Roddy Ashworth

THE families of six Colchester-based military policemen murdered in Iraq seven years ago said they hope justice will be done after eight people were arrested in connection with the killings.

The Army Red Caps were killed in June 2003 after a 400-strong Iraqi mob descended on a police station in the town of Majar al-Kabir in June 2003.

A judge in Iraq has now indicated that the eight suspects will stand trial but added the evidence against them must be assessed first.


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The six Red Caps killed were Corporal Paul Long, 24, who lived in Colchester with his wife and son; Sergeant Simon Hamilton-Jewell, 41, from Chessington, Surrey; Corporal Russell Aston, 30, from Swadlincote, Derbyshire;; Lance Corporal Benjamin McGowan Hyde, 23, from Northallerton, North Yorkshire; Lance Corporal Tom Keys, 20, from Bala, North Wales; and Corporal Simon Miller, 21, from Washington, Tyne and Wear.

The fathers of Cpls Miller and Aston said they hoped the killers would hang.

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Mike Aston said: “We're hoping that justice will take its course now and they'll be convicted.

“It's been a long time coming but if the killers are brought to justice this will enable us to get closure on that front at least.”

John Miller said: ““It will give us some satisfaction if they're brought to justice but the wound will always be wide open.

“It won't bring our son back.”

L/Cpl Keys' father, Reg, who stood against Tony Blair at the 2005 general election on an anti-war ticket, said: “It's very positive news.”

He said the families had become disheartened and unsure whether anything was being done to get justice for their sons.

Mr Keys said the investigation “seemed to lose momentum” every time a new Defence Secretary came in.

“We didn't know if they were stringing us along,” he said.

“Six men had been killed and nobody seemed that bothered.”

Mr Keys added: “The bodies were looted. My son's dog tags were torn from his neck as a trophy. His watch was stolen. Someone's been walking around with those.”

L/Cpl Hyde's mother, Sandra, said: “Obviously we are pleased that this is happening, although there is no set date for a trial.”

In March 2006, Coroner Nicholas Gardiner recorded a narrative verdict of unlawful killing in relation to the Red Caps' deaths.

He said the six men should have been better equipped, but that their deaths could not have been avoided.

An Army spokesman said: “We are assisting the Iraqi government in every way possible to secure convictions, including access to UK investigative materials and expertise.”

In January 2008 Iraqi interior minister Jawad Al Boulani vowed to do his best to track down the killers after a letter from three of the families implored the Iraqi government to find the culprits.

In his letter, Mr Al Boulani said: “I hope that there will come a day when you will be here to see the criminals being tried before justice and also a procurement of a verdict against them, God willing.”

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