Wed, Feb 07, 2007 - Page 7 News List

UK tabloid to release tape of friendly-fire incident

AFP , LONDON

One of the two US pilots who attacked a tank convoy in the early stages of the Iraq war, mistakenly killing a British soldier in the process, said "God dammit" while the other said "We're in jail dude," the Sun tabloid reported yesterday.

The tabloid pledged it would release the cockpit video of the incident yesterday.

Lance Corporal Matty Hull, 25, was killed by friendly fire when two US pilots attacked a tank convoy in March 2003, but the US has refused to allow the airing of the cockpit video.

"The cockpit video of the A-10 tankbuster attack on British forces is harrowing," the tabloid, Britain's best-read daily, said on its Web site.

"We know because, unlike the inquest investigating the death of Lance Corporal of Horse Matty Hull, we've heard it ... the Sun is pleased to be able to make the evidence public, painful though it is," it said.

Responding to the newspaper's pledge to release the video, the British defense ministry (MoD) said in a statement: "A copy of the video was used as evidence by the [internal] Board of Inquiry's [BoI] investigation into the incident."

"This recording is the property of the United States government and the MoD does not have the right to release it without their permission," the ministry said.

"When the BoI findings were released to the family, we did inform them that some classified material had been withheld, but we did not specify its exact nature. There has never been any intention to deliberately deceive or mislead [Lance Corporal] Hull's family," the ministry added.

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

He watched the tape last Wednesday but made clear his anger on Friday that the defense ministry had not secured the necessary permission for it to be played in public, 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.

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