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No Charges in Iraq Shooting

April 28, 2006|From the Associated Press

LONDON — Authorities said Thursday that no charges would be filed against British troops who fatally shot a stone-throwing civilian in Iraq and accidentally killed a fellow soldier.

Atty. Gen. Peter Goldsmith told the House of Lords that there would be no prosecution in the deaths of Sgt. Steven Roberts and the civilian, Zaher Zaher, who were shot in 2003 at a checkpoint in southern Iraq.

Roberts, who was shot in the chest, was not wearing ceramic body armor because there was not enough to go around. His commanders had decided that other units had a greater need for the armor.

Investigators concluded that British soldiers fired at Zaher because he was throwing rocks at Roberts, and that Roberts was also shot. The soldiers could have been charged with murder if it was determined that they had opened fire unlawfully.

In a tape recording made for his wife three days before he died, Roberts complained about shortages of armor.

"It's disheartening because we know we are going to war without the correct equipment," he said.

Samantha Roberts, the soldier's widow, said she accepted the decision not to prosecute.

Opposition spokesman John Jacob Astor welcomed Goldsmith's decision but complained about a delay in deciding on prosecution.

"It is disgraceful that the soldiers of the Royal Tank Regiment have waited over three years to have their names cleared," Astor said.

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