Troops to face court martial for murder

By Alastair McQueenTHREE Gurkha soldiers, charged over the death of a 14-year-old boy in Belize, are to go on trial before a general court martial in Colchester.

By Alastair McQueen

THREE Gurkha soldiers, charged over the death of a 14-year-old boy in Belize, are to go on trial before a general court martial in Colchester.

The trial, which is expected to last several weeks, will open in Colchester in November.

It will then transfer to Belize, where it will sit in Price Barracks, a British base in the former Central American colony, which means it is under UK jurisdiction.


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Judge Advocate Paul Camp and a five-officer panel will preside over the

hearing.

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If the men are found guilty, they will be flown back to Britain for pre-sentence reports and will serve their sentences in a civilian prison in the UK.

David Zabaneh, 14, died following an alleged brawl between soldiers at a bar called Raoul's Rose Garden in Belize in May 2001.

The teenager had been drinking with friends at the bar, but was seriously injured in the alleged brawl. He was airlifted to Florida for treatment, but died two days later.

Investigators from the Royal Military Police special investigation branch

arrested six Gurkhas, members of the Gurkha Rifles, at their barracks in Dover in July last year and took them to Colchester for questioning.

The Gurkha Rifles were in the elite Gurkha Parachute Company of Colchester-based 2 Para and were in Belize in May 2001 on a jungle warfare exercise.

The six Gurkhas were charged with murdering David, but charges against three of the soldier were later dropped.

Lawyers involved in the case have complained at the length of time it has

taken the Army Prosecuting Authority to bring the case to trial.

Judge Advocate Camp will open proceedings in Colchester on November 10 and is expected to spend at least two days hearing legal argument before the

court flies to Belize, where the case will begin on November 18.

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