UK apologizes for soldiers who watched Iraqi boy drown
British Defense Ministry on Friday said it is "extremely sorry” that an Iraqi boy was allowed to drown after being forced into a river by four soldiers during the British occupation in 2003.

Ahmed Jabbar Kareem Ali, 15, was detained on suspicion of looting an industrial compound in May 2003, shortly after the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime.

The soldiers took the teen along with three other suspects to a canal in the southeastern Basra to give them a "soaking” as punishment. However, he was unable to swim. A British judge investigating the incident said it was "plain and certain” that the British soldiers had caused Ahmed’s death.

"His death ensued because he was forced by the soldiers to enter the canal, where, in the presence of the soldiers, he was seen to be in difficulty, and to go under the water,” Judge George Newman said in a report released Friday.

"Notwithstanding the unlawful treatment involved in getting him into the water, his death could have been avoided because he could and should have been rescued after it became clear that he was floundering,” the judge said. "None of the soldiers gave a satisfactory explanation for their actions in directing the looters into the canal,” he added.

The report also found that the teenager was "aggressively manhandled and assaulted” after his arrest, before being taken to the Shatt al-Basra canal.

A spokesman for Britain’s Ministry of Defense said: "This was a grave incident for which we are extremely sorry.

"We are committed to investigating allegations of wrongdoing by UK forces and will use Sir George's findings to learn lessons to help ensure nothing like this happens again.”

The report’s findings will not affect the 2006 trial of the four unnamed soldiers, who were acquitted of Ahmed’s manslaughter.

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Last Modified: 2016-09-17 10:30:27
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