Terry Lloyd was “unlawfully killed” by US forces

The coroner hearing the inquest into the death of ITN journalist Terry Lloyd was today asked to find that the veteran reporter was unlawfully killed by American forces.

Anthony Hudson, representing the Lloyd family, told Oxfordshire assistant deputy coroner Andrew Walker that he can be "satisfied" on the evidence that whoever opened fire on Lloyd did so with the intention of "killing him or causing really serious injury".

Derby-born Lloyd, 50, died on 22 March, 2003, near the Shatt Al Basra Bridge in southern Iraq after his four-man team got caught up in the crossfire between American and Iraqi forces.

French cameraman Fred Nerac is still officially classed as missing. Belgian cameraman Daniel Demoustier survived, and yesterday told the coroner of how "all hell broke loose" on the road to Basra.

Today, footage of the aftermath of the attack filmed by a cameraman attached to the American unit said to have fired on Mr Lloyd was shown in public for the first time.

The footage shows American tanks and soldiers inspecting the smouldering wreckage of Lloyd and Demoustier's 4×4, and was released to the Royal Military Police some months after the incident by American authorities.

The film – which a forensic expert said may have been cut by 15 minutes at the beginning – also shows American soldiers firing on a minibus of Iraqis approaching the scene.

Hudson told the coroner that the relevance of the action is that it showed American forces were willing to open fire on civilians and were not prevented from doing so by their commanders.

The inquest has heard how Lloyd and his team had crossed from the Kuwaiti border to travel independently of coalition forces and interview civilians about their feelings in the first few days of the conflict.

Instead, they found themselves caught up in fierce fighting between Iraqi and American troops near the Shatt Al Basra bridge.

According to Mr Demoustier, the ITN team had seen the American tanks lined up near the bridge but thought they were British and guarding the road.

He said they thought they were advancing towards Basra in the wake of coalition forces, and only realised they were on the front line when they spotted Iraqi soldiers approaching them across the bridge.

The inquest at Oxford's Old Assizes today heard from witnesses who said Osman and Nerac were stopped and transferred from their marked TV car to a pick-up truck travelling as part of a convoy escorting the Basra Ba'ath Party leader – named only as Ayub by witnesses.

Major Kay Roberts, of the Royal Military Police, told the coroner that witnesses said the pick-up truck was then shot at and exploded.

Ballistics experts said yesterday that most of the firing after this point would have come from the American tanks.

Major Roberts added that although forensic experts never found Nerac's remains, if witnesses are to be believed about his transferral to the truck, he was "unlikely to have survived".

She said another witness watching from the Basra side of the bridge told her that as Mr Lloyd's vehicle moved off, the pick-up truck opened fire on it.

Ballistics expert Dr Thomas Warlow confirmed yesterday that Lloyd was first hit by an Iraqi bullet fired from a mounted machine gun on the pick up truck, which he could have survived with rapid medical treatment.

But he was then hit in the head by an American bullet as he lay in an ambulance, which killed him outright.

Demoustier told the inquest yesterday that he "could not believe" American forces had fired at him.

The 44-year-old told the coroner: "Most of the bullets were definitely coming from the American tanks and I could see the sand going up all around me all the time.

"I tried to get up and put my hands in the air facing the US tanks because I couldn't imagine that they couldn't see I was driving a clearly-marked Western Kuwaiti rented four-wheel-drive with TV signs all over it."

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