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Ministry of Defence to compensate family of drowned Iraqi teenager

£100,000 payout to family of Saeed Shabram who drowned in Shatt Al-Arab river near Basra

Saeed Shabram

22 July 2011

Following a hearing today in the English High Court, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will pay £100,000 in compensation to the family of Saeed Shabram, an 18-year old Iraqi who drowned in May 2003 after British soldiers apprehended him close to the Shatt Al-Arab river near Basra, Southern Iraq.

The MoD will also compensate Saeed’s cousin, Menem Akaili, who was with Saeed at the time and who alleges that he and Saeed were approached by several British soldiers and led at gunpoint down to a  jetty before being forced into the river.  While, Menem was luckily rescued by Iraqi bystanders, who threw him a rope and dragged him to safety, Saeed tragically was not.  .

Saeed’s body was later recovered by a diver hired by his father, Radhi Shabram. Radhi painfully describes how he remained by the river with Saeed’s mother for about four hours screaming and crying, while the diver searched for the body. When Saeed’s corpse was finally pulled from the river, Radhi describes how it was bloated and covered with marks and bruises.

In a statement obtained by his solicitors, Leigh Day & Co, Menem says, “The incident has left a big impact on our lives. I feel as though what happened to Saeed was totally pointless. We begged the soldiers to show us mercy but they ignored us, killed my dear friend and nearly killed me.”

None of the four soldiers involved in the incident were ultimately charged in respect of Saeed’s death and the MoD has not admitted liability for the incident. However, troubling questions remain about delays in, and adequacy, of the British military investigation into the incident, which took over three years to reach a “Formal Preliminary Examination” and which left ample time for the soldiers to collude on their accounts before being interviewed.

The case has disturbing similarities to that of Ahmed Jabbar Keeram Ali, a 15 year old Iraqi boy, who drowned in very similar circumstances, in the same river a fortnight earlier, after being apprehended by British soldiers.

The cases form part of a group of approximately 300 claims being brought by Leigh Day & Co for alleged executions, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment and unlawful detention of Iraqi citizens by British soldiers.

Keren Adams, Leigh Day & Co solicitor for the claimants, said she was delighted with the settlement: “Obviously no amount of money can ever hope to make up for the loss of a child or brother, but I hope this compensation will go some way towards helping Saeed Shabram’s family to rebuild their lives.”

Sapna Malik, Leigh Day & Co Partner for the claimants, further comments, “Although the MoD denies that there was a policy of “wetting”  to deal with suspected looters around the time of this incident, evidence we have seen suggests otherwise. The tactics employed by the MoD appeared to include throwing or placing suspected looters into either of Basra’s two main waterways. It is shocking that two such similar tragic teenage deaths occurred within days of each other and with such apparent impunity.”

For further information, please contact Sapna Malik on 0207 650 1222.

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