Reuters calls for US military inquiry as report slams newsman killing

A year after Reuters soundman Waleed Khaled was killed by American troops the global media group has called for an official military investigation.

An independent inquiry commissioned by Reuters concluded that the shooting of Khaled on 28 August in Iraq was "unlawful".

But according to Reuters, the official Pentagon response remains that the firing of shots at Khaled’s car was “appropriate”.

Reuters, which operates a 70-strong news operation in Iraq, has borne a particularly heavy toll in the current conflict.

On 8 April, 2003, cameraman for the agency, Taras Protsyuk, was one of three journalists killed when a US tank mistakenly fired on the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad, which was being used as a base for the foreign media.

On 17 August the same year, another Reuters cameraman, Mazen Dana, was shot by US forces while filming outside Abu Ghraib Prison near Baghdad.

The agency has criticised US inquiries which absolved the troops involved in these killings.
It is also still seeking information about the death of Dhia Najim, an Iraqi cameraman working for Reuters, who is believed to have been shot by a US sniper in 2004.

According to Reuters, its own report into the death of Khaled shows discrepancies between the evidence of a soldier and his commander. The report also criticised the US military for “losing” video footage of the incident shot by a Reuters cameraman injured in the incident.

Reuters managing editor for Europe, Middle East and Africa Michael Lawrence said: “The Defense Department has ignored the independent report which concluded that US soldiers breached their rules of engagement and the shooting of Waleed was prima facie unlawful.

"Reuters calls on the US government to conduct a full and objective investigation into the death of Waleed Khaled."

According to the Reuters report, written by a former British military investigator working for The Risk Advisory Group, soldiers fired from a rooftop at Khaled, 33, and cameraman Haider Kadhem, 23, as they sat in a stationary car while Kadhem filmed the aftermath of an attack on a police patrol through the windscreen.

The report claims that they went on firing as “Khaled, to show he posed no threat, reversed the car.”

According to Reuters: “Witnesses and ballistic evidence indicated that some of the 18 bullets to hit the car had been fired after it came to a halt.

"The soldiers said they thought Kadhem's palm-held camera might have been a grenade launcher, but were not sure."

Khaled, a former Iraqi army major, left a wife and daughter, and a son born two months after his death.

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