Missing segment from military video after ITN man killing

Colleagues of ITN reporter Terry Lloyd were taken out of their vehicle and put into the back of an Iraqi truck moments before it was targeted by American tanks, his inquest heard today.

The inquest was also shown new footage of the incident in which Lloyd died – which may have had 15 crucial minutes cut from it.

French cameraman Fred Nerac and Lebanese interpreter Hussein Osman were driving behind Lloyd and cameraman Daniel Demoustier towards the Shatt Al Basra bridge in southern Iraq on March 22, 2003.

As they approached the bridge, they drove into Iraqi soldiers and tried to turn around.

But as they drove back the way they had come, the soldiers caught up with them and forced Osman to pull over.

Today, Major Kay Roberts, of the Royal Military Police, told Lloyd's Oxford inquest that she had interviewed witnesses who said the two men were then taken out of their marked TV car while Lloyd and Demoustier waited in the car in front.

She said she was told they were put into the back of a pick-up truck travelling as part of a convoy carrying Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party leader to Basra – Iraq's second city.

She told Oxfordshire assistant deputy coroner Andrew Walker that the witnesses said the pick-up truck was shot at and exploded.

"Neither had any recollection of events following the vehicle's explosion until they woke up in hospital," she said. "Both were blown out and away from the vehicle and sustained serious lower limb injuries."

Osman's remains were found later by the sister of one of the Iraqi casualties of the blast, and buried. They were later exhumed and identified forensically,

Nerac's remains were never found.

Major Roberts said that, if the witnesses were to be believed, Fred Nerac was "unlikely to have survived".

The inquest has heard that Derby-born Lloyd, 50, was hit by an Iraqi bullet then, as he was evacuated by minibus to hospital, an American bullet hit him in the head and killed him outright.

His body was later recovered and returned to his family, from Cuddington, Buckinghamshire.

Video footage of the aftermath of the attack in which ITN reporter was killed was today shown in public for the first time.

The footage shows American tanks and soldiers inspecting the wreckage of Lloyd and Demoustier's 4×4.

The footage was taken by a cameraman attached to the tank unit alleged to have fired on Lloyd's convoy and was released to the Royal Military Police some months after the incident by American authorities.

A forensic video expert who looked at a tape estimated that 15 minutes of film may have been cut from the beginning.

According to the Coroner: "Part of the footage appears to have been edited… around the time perhaps that Mr Lloyd may have been involved in the incident."

He asked Major Kay Roberts, the Royal Military Police officer in charge of investigating Lloyd's death and Osman and Nerac's disappearance, whether she asked American authorities about the suspected missing section.

She replied: "They were made aware that we had the tape forensically enhanced and we were seeking assurances that we had everything.

"We were told that what we were given was everything that they had."

The footage opens with a view from the tanks at a distance of two burning vehicles – said in court to be Mr Lloyd and Mr Demoustier's vehicle and the Iraqi pick up truck.

Thick black smoke and flames can still be seen billowing from the vehicles and gun shots are audible.

A soldier or the cameraman can be heard shouting "There is cross-shooting in this direction, there's shooting towards our (inaudible)".

The film then changes to a scene of the tanks driving and then parking up along a road – said to be the main road between Al Zubayr and Basra.

Two helicopters are filmed flying over the scene and firing in an unknown direction. A soldier or the cameraman is heard commenting on a shot from one helicopter that disappears into smoke in the distance.

Lloyd's vehicle is then shown, charred and still smouldering. US tanks park up alongside it and soldiers, one with a camera and long lenses, are shown inspecting the scene.

A tank is then shown facing towards the second ITN vehicle, the third in the convoy – the second, the Iraqi pick-up truck is concealed by the first ITN vehicle but the machine gun on top is visible.

The second ITN vehicle, initially occupied by Nerac and Osman, is shown with its passenger door open and appears relatively unscathed compared to Lloyd's vehicle.

A minibus then appears in the distance and shots are heard being fired. American soldiers lie in the sand seemingly ready to attack.

Someone is heard shouting – although it is not clear whether he is referring to the minibus or the ITN vehicles – "it's some media personnel! That's media down there!"

Two open-top vehicles, apparently occupied by Iraqis holding their hands up, are then allowed past.

Belgian national Demoustier, 44, survived the ordeal and returned to the inquest yesterday to give evidence of the day that "all hell broke loose".

 

Related articles:
Lloyd inquest: ITN was warned of the dangers (Monday 9 October)
Cameraman's plea to save Terry Lloyd (Friday 6 October)
British military 'may have held back details' of Lloyd's death (Tuesday 3 October)
After three years, Terry Lloyd inquest to be held (Thursday 28 September)

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