A British soldier who died in a U.S. "friendly fire" attack in Iraq was unlawfully killed, a British coroner ruled on Friday.
In delivering his verdict during an inquest for the killing, Oxfordshire assistant deputy coroner Andrew Walker said that the incident which killed Lance Corporal Matty Hull, 25, in 2003 amounted to a criminal act.
"I find there was no lawful authority to fire on the convoy. The attack on the convoy therefore amounted to an assault. It was unlawful because there was no lawful reason for it and in that respect it was criminal," said he, adding that the death was "entirely avoidable."
Speaking after the verdict, widow Susan Hull said, "I think all of our family feel it was the right verdict. It was what we'd waited four years to hear."
According to the BBC, no American witnesses gave evidence at the inquest and the coroner was critical of the failure of the U.S. authorities to cooperate.
In early February, Britain's biggest-selling tabloid, The Sun, revealed a videotape, showing how a U.S. A-10 tankbuster opened "friendly fire" on a British convoy in Iraq in which a British soldier was killed.
The footage showed that the American pilots involved realized immediately they had fired a missile at the convoy of British armored vehicles, saying "God dammit" and "We're in jail, dude."
Lance Corporal Matty Hull was killed near the southern Iraqi city of Basra on March 28, 2003 after a U.S. fighter jet opened fire on British soldiers, with other four British soldiers seriously injured.
According to the report, the British vehicles were carrying orange overhead canvas panels used to identify Coalition forces to aircraft, but one of the American pilots said they could have been orange rockets and then shot up the convoy.
A spokesman for the British Ministry of Defense (MoD) said in a statement, "A copy of the video was used as evidence by the Board of Inquiry's (BOI) investigation into the incident."
"This recording is the property of the United States government and the MoD does not have the right to release it without their permission." said he.
"When the BOI findings were released to the family we did inform them that some classified material had been withheld, but we did not specify its exact nature. There has never been any intention to deliberately deceive or mislead (Lance Corporal) Hull's family." he said.
According to the Sky news, the inquest into Hull's death was adjourned last month after the coroner said he had "no choice" but to delay his verdict until the recording of the incident was produced by the government.
Britain, the staunchest ally of the U.S. in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, has the second largest number of troops, following the United States, in the battered country.
Currently, Britain has some 7,100 troops in southern Iraq, most in the Basra area and about 800 in Maysan province. Since 2003, there have been 132 British soldiers killed in Iraq.