UK & World News
Iraq Probe: Soldier 'Shot At Twitching Bodies'
A British soldier fired a volley of bullets into the "twitching" bodies of Iraqis after a firefight, a public inquiry has heard.
The Al Sweady Inquiry is examining allegations that British troops mistreated and unlawfully killed Iraqi detainees after the Battle of Danny Boy in southern Iraq in May 2004.
Former army private Duncan Aston told the inquiry he also saw a fellow private stamp on the head of a dead Iraqi, and other comrades punch and kick a detainee.
He did not report the incidents, because he did not want to "grass" on his friends, he said.
Mr Aston, who was serving with the 2nd Battalion the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, said his platoon sergeant demanded his weapon from him then opened fire on the bodies.
In a witness statement to the inquiry, Mr Aston - who has since left the Army - described how, after a firefight with Iraqi insurgents, he was collecting weapons from dead gunmen in a ditch when he noticed two were "twitching".
"At the time, I assumed that because they were twitching this meant that there must be some life there," he said.
He said the men appeared to be "somewhere between life and death" but looked past the point of first aid.
Mr Aston recalled his platoon sergeant, Paul Kelly approach the ditch "looking very angry" and try to fire at one of the twitching men, but his weapon did not work.
"He then threw his rifle to the ground and said words to the effect of 'give me your weapon'."
Sgt Kelly had seemed "worked up" he said. "He had been injured earlier in the tour when he was shot in the finger and he had returned to Iraq after a spell in the UK a lot angrier than he had been before."
He assumed Sgt Kelly wanted to fire his rifle at the bodies, but did not feel he could say no, Mr Aston told the hearing in central London.
"He put a full magazine of bullets into both bodies that had been twitching but he also fired into the bodies of the other dead gunmen in the ditch.
"The bodies of the two twitching gunmen stopped twitching. There was no other reaction from the bodies. They did not make any other noise, they just stopped twitching."
Sgt Kelly gave the gun back, and the incident was not mentioned between them again, he said.
The Ministry of Defence has denied the allegations, saying bodies handed back to Iraqis had died on the battlefield.