US government says killing of Reuters journalist was justified

A US government inquiry has concluded that the killing of a Reuters journalist in Iraq in 2005 was justified.

The Office of the Inspector General of the US Department of Defense report into the killing of soundman Waleed Khaled and the wounding of cameraman Haider Kadhem, acknowledged that the military’s original investigation at the time of the incident had been flawed, but concluded that the shooting was consistent with the rules of engagement.

Khaled was killed and cameraman Haider Kadhem was wounded on August 28, 2005, when US troops opened fire on their car in western Baghdad as they covered the aftermath of an insurgent attack on Iraqi police.

Reuters editor-in-chief David Schlesinger said: “We are never satisfied when a journalist is killed in the course of covering a story. I am satisfied that the Inspector General took this case seriously and came up with useful and positive recommendations, and I welcome the recommendation that the military and media engage together to better ensure the safety of journalists on the front line.

‘Better training for journalists and for the military, clear rules of engagement and a closer dialogue are essential in order to prevent further tragedies occurring. We will examine our own safety procedures across our news operations in light of the report.

‘The report also recommends that appropriate corrective action be taken over the initial flawed investigation, that training around investigations be improved, and that the military “contact news media organizations in Iraq and offer to review their emergency response procedures to enable employees to safely respond to encounters with Multi national Forces when warning and disabling shots may be fired.”

An independent investigation commissioned by Reuters and conducted by The Risk Advisory Group concluded that the use of force was not justified under the US rules of engagement and raised serious questions about the legitimacy of the initial US military investigation.

Some 129 journalists and 50 media support workers have beeen killed in Iraq since March 20, 2003, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

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