Page last updated at 16:29 GMT, Wednesday, 23 April 2008 17:29 UK

Rifleman charged over Iraq death

Rifleman Edward Vakabua
Rifleman Edward Vakabua died at the British base in Basra Palace

A soldier suspected of shooting dead a colleague in Iraq with a gun he did not believe was loaded has been charged with manslaughter.

The Ministry of Defence said Rifleman Aaron Kendrick, of 4 Rifles, had been charged over the death on 6 July 2007.

An investigation was launched after Rifleman Edward Vakabua, 23, from Suva, Fiji, was shot in the head.

The charge was brought by the Army Prosecuting Authority - the equivalent of the Crown Prosecution Service.

The fatal incident happened at the British army's Basra Palace base.

A spokesman for the MoD said the accused was charged on Tuesday, but was not in custody and remained at his post.

He is due to appear for a plea and directions hearing before a court martial at a date to be set in the near future, the spokesman said.

Rifleman Vakabua was serving in Mortar Platoon attached to 7 Platoon, B Company.

Known as "Vaka", the MoD described him as a "quiet, shy and pleasant character".

And Capt Will Peltor, Rifleman Vakabua's platoon commander, said he was "a proud son of Fiji" whose death had hurt all of his colleagues deeply.



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