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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 April 2006, 18:35 GMT 19:35 UK
Film-maker 'murdered' by soldier
James Miller
James Miller was shot in the neck in 2003
A British cameraman shot dead in the Gaza Strip by an Israeli soldier was murdered, an inquest jury has decided.

James Miller, 34, from Devon, was shot by a soldier from the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) while making a film in a Palestinian refugee camp in 2003.

An Israeli investigation in April 2005 cleared a soldier of misusing firearms.

Coroner Andrew Reid had told the jury at St Pancras Coroner's Court, London, on Thursday to return a verdict of unlawful killing.

He said they had to decide in the context of the case whether he had been murdered or was a victim of manslaughter.

Israel has been uncooperative with the Metropolitan Police
Det Insp Robert Anderson

After around an hour of deliberation, the jury decided that Mr Miller had been deliberately shot on the night of 2 May 2003.

A jury spokeswoman said: "We, the jury, unanimously agree this was an unlawful shooting with the intention of killing Mr James Miller.

"Therefore we can come to no other conclusion than that Mr Miller was indeed murdered."

Speaking outside the court, Mr Miller's mother, Eileen, said she felt "slightly vindicated" at the conclusion and hoped the case would have a lasting effect on the way the IDF operated.

His wife Sophy Miller said the verdict would be a "springboard for achieving the justice for James that we have always wanted".

Sophy Miller
Sophy Miller said the verdict was a 'springboard' for justice

She said the family were calling for accountability by the solider who killed Mr Miller and the IDF, and an independent commission to examine the investigation of the death.

The inquest was shown part of the Emmy award-winning film Death In Gaza, recorded by Mr Miller's team before his death.

Mr Miller, originally from Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, had been making a film about Palestinian children in the Rafah refugee camp.

It included footage by an Associated Press cameraman, who captured the moment when Mr Miller was shot.

He was trying to ask the soldiers if it was safe to leave the area when he was fatally wounded in the neck.

We are disappointed ... that no-one has been held to account for James' death.
Foreign Office Minister Dr Kim Howells

The jury spokeswoman added: "It is a fact that from day one of this inquest the Israeli authorities have not been forthcoming in the investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr Miller's death."

Metropolitan Police Det Insp Robert Anderson told the inquest on Thursday that Israel had been "uncooperative" during their own investigations into the shooting.

Mr Anderson said: "Israel has been uncooperative with the Metropolitan Police in that they haven't allowed us access to interview soldiers and witnesses."

'No threat'

He said the Metropolitan Police investigation had to see witnesses who had already been interviewed by the IDF, such as reporter Saira Shah, and relied on reports from the pathologist and ballistic experts.

Mr Anderson said his investigation, based on the available evidence, had found there was no evidence either that the dead man had posed a threat to the IDF at the time of the shooting, or that there had been any Palestinian fire directed at the soldiers' position.

The coroner concluded the hearing saying he intended to write to the Attorney General to seek to prevent similar deaths occurring.

Foreign Office Minister Dr Kim Howells said: "We are disappointed that the Military Police investigation did not recommend an indictment and that no-one has been held to account for James' death.

"We continue to support the family's request for compensation."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Cameraman's widow welcomes murder verdict



SEE ALSO:
Soldier cleared of Gaza killing
14 Apr 05 |  Middle East


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