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Israeli soldier who killed UK journalist pardoned

Aljazeera | April 14, 2005

An Israeli occupation soldier who murdered a British cameraman two years ago has been acquitted of the charge of manslaughter, the Israeli press reported Thursday.

An Israeli officer, identified only as Lt. H., opened fire at and killed James Miller, 34, in May 2003, on the Philadelphi Route that runs the length of the Gaza-Egypt border, while filming a TV documentary entitled "Death in Gaza", tackling the Palestinian children’s sufferings under the Israeli occupation.

Hours after Miller's death, an Israeli commander claimed that troops in Rafah had opened fire after they were attacked by Palestinian fighters who were smuggling in arms from Egypt.

"Two of our armoured vehicles went in to uncover a smuggling tunnel ... and as darkness fell came under small arms fire. Two rocket propelled grenades were also fired at them. The men shot back at the attackers," Colonel Avi, then the acting commander of Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip, told reporters.

But the footage in "Death in Gaza" shows no sign of a clash.

The Israeli soldier shot Miller at close range, although he was wearing a journalist insignia and waved a white flag, according to witnesses.

The Israeli army's judge advocate-general, Brig. General Avihai Mandelbit dropped on Thursday criminal charges against the Israeli officer due to "lack of evidence" that directly ties him to the death of Miller.

Instead, it has been decided to try the soldier in a "disciplinary hearing" on the lesser charges of "inappropriate use of weapons" for opening fire on civilians who posed no danger.

Few months ago, the IOF, Israeli occupation Forces, also pardoned an Israeli soldier who a 9-year-old Palestinian school girl, in Rafah, and then shot her 20 times.

The soldier, known as "Captain R," was instead charged with the "inappropriate use of army-issued weapon."

A spokesman for the British embassy in Tel Aviv said the British government would still pursue the matter with the Israeli government.

"We would like to see justice for James Miller," said Nil Wigand, a press attaché at the embassy.

The Israeli army declined to comment on the acquittals.

A spokesperson for the Israeli army claimed the investigation was "unprecedented in scope" and included ballistics checks, examinations of satellite imagery and polygraph tests of individuals involved.

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