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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 October, 2003, 11:34 GMT
Family sues over Iraqi killings
Bomb site
The rubble that was once the Hamoodis' home
A Manchester-based Iraqi family is launching legal action against the Ministry of Defence for the deaths of 10 relatives in the recent war.

It is understood the Hamoodis will be making legal history, as it is the first time the UK Government has faced a civil claim for unlawful killing.

It is also believed to be the first time any civilians have taken action against the government for its role in a war.

Three generations of the family died on 5 April, when coalition forces accidentally destroyed their home in Basra, southern Iraq.

The troops had been hunting Saddam Hussein's cousin, Ali Hasan Majid, known as Chemical Ali, who was living in a house nearby.

The MoD said it would contest the claim and was confident its troops acted "legally and properly".

'Dead inside'

Mazin Hamoodi, who left the family's Iraqi home 27 years ago and now lives in Manchester, decided to take the action after returning to see the devastation for himself.

The businessman, whose brothers Sudad and Anam also live in the UK, told BBC News he first learned of the attack while watching Arab television station al-Jazeera.

Mazin Hamoodi
Mazin Hamoodi lost 10 members of his family

He said: "I found out in the news that my family had gone... I am still feeling it now. I feel dead inside, to be honest."

In the weeks after the tragedy Mazin Hamoodi wrote letters to the White House and Number 10, but he has not received the response he wants.

Family lawyer Imran Khan said the action could lead to some redress for the family, as well as being a test of the legality of the Iraq conflict.

He said: "If the intelligence which resulted in the deaths of these 10 people was 'bad'... and effectively the authorities went ahead and bombed this family... that would suggest to me overall that the war was illegal because it was based on some misconstrued assumptions."

In a statement issued to BBC News, the MoD said: "We are confident that our armed forces acted legally and properly on this occasion, and we will defend robustly any action arising from loss caused by the conflict."

'Sadness and sorrow'

Last week a survivor of the attack, 72-year-old Abid Hassan Hamoodi, told BBC News Online that while the coalition had done well to remove Saddam Hussein, what had happened to his family was inexcusable.

We will defend robustly any action arising from loss caused by the conflict
Ministry of Defence
He said: "I will never forget my family for a second. We were all living here in my house and now I am left by myself. Alone.

"They are of my blood. My wife, my daughter, who was a doctor, my son, a computer engineer and my grandchildren. They have all gone.

"I am now living on my memories. But I will never forget them. How could I do that?

"There is sadness and sorrow throughout our days and nights, for something which shouldn't have happened."

'Living on memories of my family'
20 Oct 03  |  Magazine
Joy at 'Chemical Ali' capture
22 Aug 03  |  Middle East
Q&A: 'Chemical Ali' held
22 Aug 03  |  Middle East
Tragic brothers' funeral struggle
23 Apr 03  |  Middle East
Basra bombing 'destroyed my family'
16 Apr 03  |  Middle East


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