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Last Updated: Friday, 23 May, 2003, 08:35 GMT 09:35 UK
Colonel in new investigation
Lt Col Tim Collins: Commanding Officer
Lt Col Tim Collins: Commanding Officer is being investigated
An inquiry is to be held into the running of a battalion while it was under the command of Colonel Tim Collins, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

The investigation announced by the MoD on Friday centres partly on an ongoing inquiry into the apparent suicide of an 18-year-old soldier in 2001.

The colonel is also being investigated after allegations were made by an American officer about his treatment of Iraqi civilians and prisoners of war.

The Northern Ireland-born colonel, who won wide praise for a rousing speech to his troops on the eve of the fighting, has been accused of breaking the rules of conduct during the conflict in Iraq.

The MoD stressed the two inquiries were unrelated and would be conducted separately.

Commanding officer

An inquiry was first launched into the 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment following the death of trooper Paul Cochrane at Drumaad barracks, Northern Ireland, in 2001.

Colonel Collins, 43, was commanding officer of the regiment at the time.

The MoD spokesman said: "We can confirm that a further internal investigation will be conducted to examine the military environment that existed within 1 Royal Irish during the period leading up to Ranger Cochrane's death."

Colonel denies war claims

Colonel Collins said he was confident of being cleared by the war conduct investigation, sparked by allegations made by an American officer.

Colonel Collins said he was astonished by the allegations and remained confident his "good name would be restored".

The Iraqi man at the centre of the allegations, Ayoub Yousif Naser, told the Times newspaper he was struck by the colonel and that he and his son were then made to face a wall.

He is reported to have said he heard the officer give the order to fire before he saw other troops approach with bandages to treat their wounds.

Mr Naser, who was a member of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, has not made any allegations against the colonel.

If found guilty of the allegations Colonel Collins could face disciplinary action or even expulsion from the Army.

Colonel Collins won praise for his speech to the troops from Prince Charles and President George W Bush is understood to have requested a copy for the wall of the Oval Office.





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