Skip to main content

Inquiry into Iraqi teen allegedly drowned by British soldiers warns radio logs 'may have been lost'

A JUDGE investigating allegations that an Iraqi teenager drowned after being thrown into a river by British troops in 2003 said the “invaluable” radio logs of the incident are missing.

Sir George Newman told a directions hearing attended by the soldiers’ lawyers and – by video link – the father of Saeed Shabram, the dead teenager, that he still does not have access to the logs.

The hearing, which took place earlier this month, was interrupted by power cuts as Mr Shabram tried to observe from Iraq.

His son, who could not swim, was 18 when he was allegedly thrown into the Shatt al-Arab river by Royal Engineers based in Basra on May 23 2003.

Mr Newman said that British troops in Basra “were constantly monitoring and recording all radio and telephone communications on radio operators’ logs and watchkeepers’ logs” on the day of the drowning.

However, the judge complained: “It is a matter of some concern to me that, to date, I am not in possession of all the invaluable material which these logs would disclose.”

He added: “It seems they may have been lost. I shall, in the course of the enquiry, endeavour to obtain insight into their loss or disappearance.”

Mr Newman, a retired High Court judge, heads the Iraq Fatality Investigations unit, tasked with looking into allegations of unlawful killing by British forces in that country.

The unit is designed to discharge the government’s legal duty to conduct a human rights-compliant investigation. It is not a criminal probe.

In 2011, the Ministry of Defence reached an out-of-court settlement with the Shabram family, awarding £100,000 in compensation but denying any liability for the death.


We're a reader-owned co-operative, which means you can become part of the paper too by buying shares in the People’s Press Printing Society.

Become a supporter

Fighting fund

You've Raised:£ 9,648
We need:£ 8,352
12 Days remaining
Donate today