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Last Updated: Friday, 5 May 2006, 16:42 GMT 17:42 UK
Puzzle over Iraqi looter burial
Ahmed Jabber Kareem
The four men deny the manslaughter of Mr Kareem
A 15-year-old Iraqi looter, allegedly forced by four UK soldiers into a river where he died, was buried under a different name, a court has heard.

The soldiers are accused of forcing four looters at gunpoint into the Shatt al-Basra canal in May 2003, where it is alleged Ahmed Jabar Karheem drowned.

The detail emerged as Aiad Salim Hanon, who claims to have witnessed the alleged incident, was cross-examined.

Three Irish Guards and one former Coldstream Guard deny manslaughter.

They are Sergeant Carle Selman, 39, then of the Coldstream Guards and now serving with the Scots Guards, Lance Corporal James Cooke, 22, Guardsman Joseph McCleary, 24, and Guardsman Martin McGing, 22, all of the Irish Guards.

The Ministry of Defence has not released their addresses.

'Supporting family'

Jerry Hayes, representing Guardsman McGing, asked Mr Hanon whether he knew Mr Karheem had been buried under the name Ahmed Jabar Karheem Al-Fartousi, rather than his proper name Ahmed Jabar Karheem Ali Al-Muhamdawi.

Mr Hanon, a 25-year-old welder from Basra, spoke through an interpreter.

He said: "That is no concern of mine."

Mr Hayes went on to accuse him of lying about the soldiers' actions to try to get compensation.

"When you went to the police station before the body was found, you didn't ask for help did you?," he said.

Guard outside court martial
The men were on their last day in Iraq when the death allegedly happened

Mr Hanon replied that he had not asked for help and that he had only made a complaint.

He denied he had been "trying to milk the British taxpayer for compensation".

However, he admitted that at the time of the alleged incident he "would have done anything for money", saying he had become a looter to support his family.

When Mr Hannon was accused of not wanting to travel to Britain and give evidence because he would have to swear on the Holy Book and be exposed as a liar, he said: "Everything I have said I swore by Allah.

"I have not come to court to lie for compensation. I did not know it would come this far. I am telling the truth."

'Obvious distress'

The court heard that the dead teenager - who could not swim - struggled in "obvious distress" in the canal before disappearing underwater.

The prosecution alleges he was one of four suspected Iraqi looters who were bundled into the water to "teach them a lesson".

It was claimed that at least two of the British soldiers beat the four suspects before throwing them to the ground and ordering them into the water.

Prosecution counsel Orlando Pownall QC said there was an "irresistible inference" that the boy had drowned.

He described the cause of death as the "unlawful and dangerous activities of the four defendants acting together as part of a joint enterprise".

The trial was adjourned until Monday.




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