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Thursday, 21 September, 2000, 00:59 GMT 01:59 UK
Judge upholds Waco report
Waco compound
The FBI has been cleared of blame for the fire
A United State federal judge has said the US Government was not to blame for the deaths of some 80 cult members who died in a 1993 siege in Waco, Texas.

Waco, Texas
The siege began when FBI agents tried to enter the compound
US District Judge Walter Smith dismissed a lawsuit brought by survivors and relatives of the Branch Davidians who died when the cult's compound was destroyed in a fire following an FBI assault.

About 100 survivors and relatives of the dead had sued the government for $675m, alleging that agents had used excessive force to end the siege.

In reaching his verdict, the judge upheld an earlier non-binding report made by a government-appointed investigator.

This is the latest defeat for the cult in their seven-year battle with the US Government over the responsibility for Waco.

US Attorney-General Janet Reno has already been cleared of any blame.

Siege

A blaze broke out as agents moved into the compound to end the 51-day siege.

David Koresh
Cult leader David Koresh has been held responsible for the blaze
Speculation that the FBI may have triggered the blaze accidentally intensified, after the agency finally admitted last year it had fired potentially incendiary devices into the compound.

Videotape of the events also appeared to show unexplained flashes.

But the report said that government agents had not started the fire, nor opened fire on the Davidians.

During the inquiry, a UK firm, Vector Data systems, recreated some of the final day's events.

The firm said in its report that the flashes seen on the video were sunlight reflecting off debris, not security forces' gunfire.

The government argued that David Koresh taught his followers he was an incarnation of God and trained them for an armed apocalyptic conflict.

But surviving Davidians have insisted that their compound was a peaceful Bible study centre.

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See also:

11 May 00 | Americas
Report clears FBI of Waco blame
20 Mar 00 | Americas
Waco re-enactment 'clears' FBI
15 Jul 00 | Americas
Jury clears US over Waco deaths
27 Aug 99 | Americas
Koresh and the Waco siege
27 Aug 99 | Americas
Waco admission damages Reno
21 Jul 00 | Americas
Inquiry clears FBI of Waco blame
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