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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 April, 2004, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
MoD loses Kosovan shooting case
Troops in Kosovo
British troops have performed well overall, said the judge
Two Kosovan cousins who came under fire from British peacekeeping troops have won damages from the Ministry of Defence.

Mohamet Bici, 27 was shot in the jaw, and Skender Bici, 28, was left with severe psychological trauma.

Their cousin Fahri Mohamet was killed in the incident in Pristina in 1999.

The High Court in London said the MoD was liable in negligence to the two men, who now live in Leeds. Damages are to be decided at a later date.

In the case of Mohamet Bici, the judge Mr Justice Elias ruled the MoD was also liable in trespass to the person.

Warnings

Mr Mohamet was killed after he had fired an AK-47 rifle into the air during a demonstration in Pristina to celebrate a Nato ceasefire between the KLA and the Serbs.

Mohamet Bici and Fahri Mohamet were travelling on the roof of a car and Skender was in the back seat when the soldiers ordered the car to stop.

They said they opened fire when it failed to do so.

The Queen's uniform is not a licence to commit wrongdoing, and it has never been suggested that it should be
Mr Justice Elias
Mohamet Bici was airlifted to Leeds for medical treatment and both men, who were not in court, are now settled with their families in the UK.

It was the first claim for compensation by someone injured abroad by British peacekeeping forces.

Mr Justice Elias said the Army in general had performed "with considerable credit" in Kosovo. But he dismissed the MoD's defences of "combat immunity".

He said: "Soldiers are human; from time to time mistakes are inevitable, and even the most rigorous discipline will crack.

Troops
Another 750 troops left the UK for Kosovo last month
"In this case the fall from the Army's usual high standards led to tragic consequences for the victims and their families.

"The Queen's uniform is not a licence to commit wrongdoing, and it has never been suggested that it should be."

An investigation by the Royal Military Police has cleared the soldiers involved because of the situation they were operating in.

The MoD was granted permission to appeal.

Violence

British paratroopers were guarding a building full of Serb families and say they feared the Kosovans planned to attack them.

The soldiers say they shouted warnings before opening fire when the car failed to stop.

Mohamet Bici was shot in the jaw and later had extensive reconstruction surgery at the hospital in Leeds.

The province of Kosovo is under UN administration and is still officially part of Serbia and Montenegro.

Last month's upsurge in violence prompted the UK to send 750 more troops and was the worst since the Nato-led bombing campaign against the former republic of Yugoslavia in 1999.




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