Sun, Feb 04, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Widow of friendly-fire accident victim condemns US over lack of cooperation

AFP , LONDON

The widow of a British soldier who died in friendly fire in Iraq condemned on Friday the US refusal to allow the airing of a cockpit recording of the incident, blocking a legal inquiry into the death.

Susan Hull said it was "very disappointing" that the authorities had not made available the tapes of two pilots who attacked a tank convoy, killing her husband, Lance Corporal Matty Hull, in March 2003.

She only found out they existed on Thursday, having been told "categorically" by the British defense ministry that there was no such recording.

"I think it's absolutely disgusting," she told an inquest on Thursday.

"We have waited four years. That this evidence has just come to light miraculously in the previous week means our time has been delayed again," she said.

It is believed that the British military Board of Inquiry has had a copy of the recording since 2004.

Oxfordshire assistant deputy coroner Andrew Walker on Friday adjourned an inquest into the death of 25-year-old Hull until March 12 while the defense ministry tries to secure authorization for the classified material to be shown in public.

But his fury at the authorities' failure to produce the material was clear, saying it was "a matter of profound regret."

"I just, for my part, hope that those in authority recognize that at the heart of this inquest is a grieving family," he added.

Sources say the tape is "incriminating" and contains the line: "Someone's going to jail for this."

Walker had given the defence ministry a deadline of Friday morning to secure US permission to play the tape, but was forced to adjourn the hearing when they failed to do so.

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