Civil action to be launched by family of dead film-maker

By Caitlin Pike

The family of British film-maker James Miller have confirmed they
will be launching a civil action against the Israeli soldier believed
to have shot him. They will also seek a judicial review into the
investigation of his death.

The family issued a statement following the news that Israel’s Judge
Advocate General is to appeal against the decision by the Israeli
Defence Force’s Southern Command to drop all disciplinary charges
against the soldier involved.

“From the outset we have looked for
accountability and maintained that those responsible for illegally
killing James should face a criminal prosecution in Israel. Now we have
no recourse other than a civil action and a judicial review of the
investigation,” the family said.

In March, nearly two years after
Miller’s death, his family were told by the Judge Advocate General in
Tel Aviv there was not enough evidence to prosecute the soldier
involved.

General Mandelblitt told them he recommended the
soldier face disciplinary charges for breaking the rules of engagement
and for his misconduct during the investigation into the events
surrounding Miller’s death.

Details of a report into Miller’s
death issued by the chief lawyer of the Israeli Southern Command,
revealed this week in The Observer, includes claims that soldiers lied
and tampered with evidence during the investigation.

The
different version of events given by the soldier thought to have fired
the shot that killed Miller were so contradictory they were described
as coming “full circle”.

The report also stated that guns
submitted as part of the investigation could not have been used in the
shooting because they did not match the bullets found at the scene of
Miller’s death.

There is also concern over the army’s observation tapes from the day he was shot, which have never been found.

The
family added: “The decision of the Advocate General to appeal is hardly
surprising as he recommended that harsh disciplinary action be taken
against the officer in command of the armoured personnel carrier who
fired.

“While this process continues, soldiers who are capable of
acting illegally and in a wholly unprofessional way continue to serve
in the IDF and there can be no justice for James.”

Miller was
killed on 2 May 2003 in Rafah in the Gaza Strip. Aged 34, he was an
award-winning film-maker and producer. The film that he was unable to
finish, Death in Gaza, won the 2004 Bafta for current affairs.

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