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Last Updated: Friday, 2 July, 2004, 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK
Soldier on Iraq shooting charge
British soldier in Basra
The army is conducting inquiries into abuse allegations
A British soldier faces a court martial for shooting a 13-year-old in Iraq, the attorney general has said.

Private Alexander Johnston of the Kings Own Scottish Borderers has been charged with unlawful wounding.

The trial relates to an incident in al-Uzayr in southern Iraq on 15 September 2003, the Attorney General's office confirmed on Friday.

The army is holding several internal investigations into allegations of misconduct by British troops in Iraq.

The rule of law applies to British forces as much as to everyone else
Ministry of Defence spokesman

Private Johnston, of the 1st Battalion faces an alternative charge of negligent handling of a weapon.

The Attorney General's statement said: "On the 19th June the Army Prosecuting Authority directed that Private Johnston of the 1st Battalion Kings Own Scottish Borderers should stand trial for one offence of unlawful wounding.

"The matter relates to a non fatal shooting of Iraqi boy which occurred on Monday 15 September 2003."

No date set

If convicted he could face imprisonment in a civilian prison or detention in a military corrective training centre.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said it was right and proper that incidents should be fully investigated.

"The rule of law applies to British forces as much as to everyone else and this case is a demonstration of that," he said.

The MoD refused to reveal details of the Iraqi boy's condition, citing patient confidentiality.

Private Johnston is the fifth British soldier to be charged over events in Iraq.

Four Royal Fusiliers already face courts martial over allegations that they abused Iraqis.

Charges against them include assault, indecent assault and a charge of prejudicing good order and military discipline.

Around 9,200 British troops are deployed in southern Iraq.

No date has yet been set for Private Johnston's trial, which is expected to be held in Iraq.

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