Government steps up the pressure on Israel over shooting

James Miller was shot dead in Gaza

Attorney General Lord Goldsmith has become the latest British minister to apply pressure on the Israeli authorities to conclude and publish their investigation into the killing of the documentary maker James Miller, shot dead by Israeli Defence Forces in Gaza in May 2003.

Complaints by the British coroner that his inquiries had not been answered prompted Lord Goldsmith, in Israel this week, to press the Israeli military authorities to co-operate.

Disclosing the Attorney General’s intervention, Foreign Office minister Chris Mullen admitted to MPs the Government’s “disappointment at the apparent lack of progress”.

Prime Minister Tony Blair, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and other ministers have expressed the British Government’s expectation that the Israelis will conduct a full inquiry into the events surrounding Miller’s death.

The Israeli military command inquiry into the shooting was completed last autumn but the Israeli Defence Forces ordered amore detailed investigation by the military police.

Last autumn the Israelis said that the investigation would be concluded by the end of 2003. But Mullen said: “We have not had any recent indication of when the investigation will be completed.”

Raising the delay on behalf of Miller’s family in a Commons debate, Nick Harvey, MP for North Devon, said the British coroner had been frustrated because his inquries had been met with short shift.

Mullen said that the Attorney General had met the Irsaeli military advocate general.

“He pressed for a rapid and thorough conclusion and stressed the need for accountability and co-operation with the British coroner,” said Mullen.

He added that Miller, 34, was a “brave and talented journalist” and that his death was a “terrible tragedy”.

“We shall continue to press the Israeli Government at every opportunity and at the most senior levels for any early conclusion,” he said.

By David Rose

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