U.S. forces unlawfully killed a British television journalist in the opening days of the Iraq war, a coroner ruled Friday.
Deputy Coroner Andrew Walker said he would ask the attorney general to take steps to bring to justice those responsible for the death of Terry Lloyd, 50, a veteran reporter for the British television network ITN.
“Terry Lloyd died following a gunshot wound to the head. The evidence this bullet was fired by the Americans is overwhelming,” Walker said.
Witnesses testified during the weeklong inquest that Lloyd — who was driving with fellow ITN reporters from Kuwait toward Basra, Iraq — was shot in the back by Iraqi troops who overtook his car, then died when U.S. fire hit an ambulance and struck him in the head.
“There is no doubt that the minibus presented no threat to the American forces. There is no doubt it was an unlawful act of fire upon the minibus,” Walker said.
Lloyd and three other ITN crew members were some of the few Western reporters who covered the fighting on their own, while most others were embedded with U.S. or British forces.
Lebanese interpreter Hussein Osman also was killed in the ITN crew, and cameraman Fred Nerac remains missing and presumed dead. Only ITN cameraman Daniel Demoustier survived.
Demoustier told the inquest that ITN’s pair of four-wheel-drive vehicles were overtaken by a truck carrying Iraqi forces and that gunfire erupted.
Lloyd family lawyer Anthony Hudson said whoever opened fire on Lloyd had the intention of “killing him or causing really serious injury.”
Lloyd’s widow, Lynn, in a statement read by her lawyer, said U.S. forces “allowed their soldiers to behave like trigger-happy cowboys in an area in which there were civilians traveling.”
She called the killing a war crime — “a despicable, deliberate, vengeful act.”
Lloyd and the three other ITN crew members were some of the few Western reporters who covered the fighting on their own, while most others were embedded with U.S. or British forces.
U.S. authorities didn’t allow servicemen to testify at the inquest. Several submitted statements that the coroner ruled inadmissible.
The court had watched a video Tuesday, filmed by a U.S. serviceman attached to one of the tanks accused of firing at the reporters’ cars. The tape opens with images of Lloyd’s vehicle and the Iraqi truck burning amid gunfire. The tanks drive to the cars and inspect them. A minivan – possibly the ambulance – appears and more shots are fired.
At the end of the tape, a U.S. soldier shouts, “It’s some media personnel! That’s media down there!”
A forensic examiner said the first 15 minutes of the tape may have been erased.
In Britain, inquests take place when a person dies violently, unexpectedly, or of unknown causes. In the case of an overseas death, the inquest is held in the first English jurisdiction where the body is returned.