OXFORD, England – The widow of a British soldier killed in a "friendly fire" attack by U.S. forces during the Iraq war was shown a cockpit video on Monday that captured the horrified reaction of the two American pilots who opened fire.
Susan Hull, her lawyers, and Oxfordshire Assistant Deputy Coroner Andrew Walker watched the video in private at a county hall in Oxford where Walker is conducting an inquest into the death of Lance Cpl. Matty Hull.
He was killed when his convoy was strafed by a U.S. warplane in southern Iraq on March 28, 2003. Four others were wounded in the attack.
Susan Hull was accompanied by several relatives at the private screening, and it was not known if they had seen the footage, or portions of it, previously.
In an effort to speed up the inquest, Walker reluctantly agreed last month to a U.S. request not to show it in open court. The Pentagon previously had said the video was classified and could not be shown, but changed its position after a copy of it was leaked to a British newspaper and widely shown on television.
Walker has said that lawyers representing the Hull family did not object to U.S. demands that the inquest only play the video behind closed doors.
Geraldine McCool, a Hull family lawyer, has said that Hull's family was eager to examine the two-hour-long tape in its entirety since it might provide new insight into the incident.
American resistance to releasing the footage has reinforced simmering anger among many Britons over the Iraq war, raising questions about what their country gets in exchange for being Washington's top ally in the U.S.-led coalition.
A widely circulated excerpt from the tape, shot from the gun camera of A-10 jet, captures the pilots' horror as they realize they had hit coalition forces. "I'm going to be sick," one says, before adding, "We're in jail, dude."
During the last inquest hearing in February, Walker asked to be supplied with additional evidence, including the pilots' training records and an uncensored version of the U.S. military's investigation into the incident.
McCool appealed to the U.S. to hand over the evidence quickly.
"If (the Americans) don't cooperate, they will give the impression there is something they wish to conceal," she said at the time.