Miller's family wants officer extradited

Filmmaker was killed in Gaza 3 years ago; officer was acquitted by army.

By GEORGE CONGER
April 8, 2006 22:12
2 minute read.
james miller 298.88

james miller 298.88. (photo credit: Associated Press [file])

 
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Lawyers for the family of British filmmaker James Miller, killed in Gaza three years ago, are pressuring the British government to demand the extradition of an IDF officer to stand trial for murder, after a London court last week ruled his killing a homicide. The 10-member jury at the St. Pancras Coroner's Court in London on Thursday ruled that Miller's death was an "unlawful killing" and an "intentional act of murder", the solicitor for the Miller family, Louise Christian, told The Jerusalem Post. Miller's death was a "breach of the Geneva Conventions" Christian said, and "we are inviting the attorney-general to institute proceedings against Lt. Haib in this country and to demand his extradition," she said. The jury heard testimony that Haib, the leader of the IDF patrol on May 2, 2003 in Rafah, shot and killed the unarmed Miller, whom witnesses said was approaching Haib's patrol while holding a white flag at the time of his death. British police investigating the incident told the inquest they found no evidence that Miller posed a threat. However, Detective Inspector Robert Anderson told the court the IDF had been "uncooperative with the Metropolitan Police in that they haven't allowed us access to interview soldiers and witnesses." The IDF did not participate in the inquest, but the Israeli Embassy did offer a statement, which read: "After a very thorough investigation using laboratories in Israel and abroad and after reviewing all the available evidence, it was not possible to reach a reliable conclusion that could provide a basis for proceedings under criminal law." "In other cases where there is sufficient evidence, those responsible are prosecuted, as in a separate case involving another British citizen when an Israeli soldier was sentenced to eight years in jail. Those considerations regarding evidence are relevant in all legal systems, including the UK." Christian told the Post the Miller family "has been asking for urgent meetings with the foreign secretary, the prime minister and the attorney-general" to press their claims. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has agreed to meet with the Millers at some future date, but no response has been received from the others, she said. Citing the death of Rachel Corrie and British "human shield" Tom Hurndall, whose deaths also took place in the Southern Command, Christian told the Post, "There is a culture of impunity of killings of civilians by the Israel Defense Forces and that is not just foreign nationals but Palestinians. "The fact there is more than death one raises questions about the command structure and what orders have been given," Christian said. British Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells noted, "The verdict of unlawful killing does not come as a surprise to me. The British Government has consistently pressed the Israelis at all levels to carry out a thorough and transparent investigation into James's killing. We are disappointed that the Military Police investigation did not recommend an indictment and that no-one has been held to account for James's death. We continue to support the family's request for compensation," Howells said. Britain's new ambassador to Israel, Tom Phillips, who previously served as consul-general in Tel Aviv from 1990-1993, is expected to take up issue with the Israeli government when he assumes his post in August.

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