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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 June 2006, 16:24 GMT 17:24 UK
Troops cleared over Iraq drowning
The four cleared soldiers (from left): Martin McGing, Carle Selman, James Cook, and Joseph McLeary
All four of the soldiers were found not guilty of the Iraqi's drowning
Three soldiers have been found not guilty of the manslaughter of an Iraqi boy, at a Colchester court martial.

The trio had all denied the manslaughter of 15-year-old Ahmed Jabber Kareem, a non-swimmer who drowned in a Basra canal in May 2003.

Sgt Carle Selman, 39, then of the Coldstream Guards, and now with the Scots Guards, was cleared.

Guardsman Joseph McCleary, 24, and Guardsman Martin McGing, 22, both of the Irish Guards were also cleared.

In May, the court martial found a fourth soldier - L/Cpl James Cook of the Irish Guards - not guilty by a jury panel of seven senior officers in Colchester on the direction of the judge advocate.

He too had denied any involvement in the death.


Mr Kareem was one of four alleged looters stopped by Iraqi police and British soldiers and allegedly forced into Shatt al-Basra canal on 8 May 2003.

Speaking after the verdict, Guardsman Martin McGing's solicitor, Fadi Daoud, said it was an "ill conceived" case which had left the soldier "embittered".

"[He] has served his country admirably in a difficult environment without any proper training during a transitional period between combat operations and peacekeeping.

Ahmed Jabber Kareem
Ahmed Jabber Kareem died in 2003 in a Basra canal

"Whilst naturally Martin remains embittered by the decision made to prosecute him, nonetheless he wants to communicate his total appreciation to his regiment, the Irish Guards, for their unstinting support through a most difficult period," his lawyer said.

Guardsman McGing said he wanted to continue serving his country, most likely with the police.

His other lawyer, Jerry Hayes, said the soldiers had been "hung out to dry".

He said: "There were 700,000 people in Basra in 2003 and just 63 military police. These brave young soldiers were the difference between anarchy and peace."

The soldiers had been accused of forcing four suspected looters at gunpoint into the Shatt al-Basra canal to "teach them a lesson".

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

Justice has been served and I would like to thank everyone
Guardsman Joseph McCleary

One of the four Iraqis, Aiad Salim Hanon, said he had been beaten repeatedly by the soldiers before being driven to the canal.

His evidence was questioned by the defence lawyers when inconsistencies arose.

Sgt Selman's solicitor, Chris Wright, said his client had continued to "fulfil his duty with the customary professionalism", during the three years since the death.

"He welcomes the wide-ranging support offered from across the Household Division: but above all he is relieved his innocence in this matter is confirmed."

Guardsman Joseph McCleary, also speaking after the verdicts, said: "Justice has been served and I would like to thank everyone. I'm looking forward to going home and pleased it's all over."

Army support

The Ministry of Defence said it was "only right and proper" that allegations were fully investigated.

"Our soldiers are not above the law and must operate within strict legal guidelines at all times," ministry spokesman Col Peter Davies said.

"The Army takes all allegations on the failure to do so extremely seriously.

"In this case that process is now complete, and the soldiers are able to resume their military career with the full continuing support of the Army and their regiment."

He added: "Our thoughts are, of course, with Mr Kareem's family at this very difficult time."

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