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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 January, 2004, 16:35 GMT
Truth quest over Red Cap deaths
Lance Corporal Thomas Keys
Thomas Keys was a paratrooper before the military police

The father of a Royal Military Policeman who died when he and five others were ambushed by 400 Iraqis says he wants someone to take responsibility for the death.

Reg Keys and his wife Sally were meeting Ministry of Defence officials along with other parents on Thursday in their quest for answers about the murders.

They, and the other men's families - some of whom want a full public inquiry into the deaths - were briefed in London on Thursday on progress in the investigation into their deaths.

Lance Corporal Thomas Keys, 20, died in June when the military policemen were ambushed in a police station in the southern Iraqi town of Al Majar al-Kabir.

The casualties, seven weeks after the war ended, were the highest suffered by the military police for 50 years.

Mr Keys from Llanuwchllyn near Bala in Gwynedd, has previously accused the army of incompetence over the death of his son and now says he wants someone brought to book.

"We want to know the truth," said Mr Keys ahead of the meeting.

"We want the Army to come out and say that yes, there are certain officers involved that day that will be disciplined."

Corporal Simon Miller, 21
Tyne and Wear
Sergeant Simon Alexander Hamilton-Jewell, 41
from Chessington, Surrey
Corporal Russell Aston, 30
Swadlincote, Derbyshire
Corporal Paul Graham Long, 24
Lance-Corporal Benjamin John McGowan Hyde, 23
Northallerton, Yorks
Lance-Corporal Thomas Richard Keys, 20
Bala, N Wales
The military policemen - or Red Caps - were killed seven weeks after the end of the war. They were training Iraqis to be policemen.

But seven months on, Mr Keys says the families still know very little about what happened on that fateful day.

"We want to know what happened on that day when these six lads were basically forgotten at that station and allowed to be murdered by an angry mob of 400 to 500 Iraqis."

One of the questions he wants answered is why the authorities allowed the soldiers to enter a red (danger) zone in lightly armed vehicles, and without mobile communications.

The military policemen - or Red Caps - were killed seven weeks after the end of the war. They were from 156 Provost Company were there to train Iraqi policemen in the town, 120 miles north of Basra.

It is thought the policemen were attacked during demonstrations against what were seen as heavy-handed weapons searches.

It was reported that two days before they were attacked on 24 June there was trouble in the region over searches conducted by British paratroopers.

The MoD investigation was launched following claims the men had been exposed in a dangerous location without sufficient back-up.

Mr Keys said he was also angered that once the Army was informed of the murders, they left the Iraqis to recover the servicemen's bodies.

"They, the British Army, the bulldog spirit, stood back for one hour and 10 minutes whilst the Iraqis recovered the six bodies," he said.

"To me that just beggars belief."

Referring to his son's uniform dog tags being lost, he added: "I believe they are now hanging on some Iraqi's mantelpiece as a trophy.

"These lads were let down in life and they were let down in death."

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