Giving evidence at al-Sweady inquiry, Paul Kelly denies deliberately firing at injured Iraqis after 2004 gun battle
A British army sergeant told a public inquiry on Monday he may have shot and killed Iraqis who were already seriously wounded after a fierce gun battle with insurgents north of Basra.
Paul Kelly, a sergeant in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, said he fired his rifle as he felt in danger after encountering two “standing” men with AK47 rifles.
“What I’m saying is when I lifted my weapons up to fire, I possibly swept across those bodies that were on the floor and if they are people who were alive I could have killed them. I don’t know,” Kelly said.
Asked if he had deliberately aimed at injured Iraqis, he replied: “What I am saying is I walked into a trench and somebody pointed a weapon at me and I started firing.”
Kelly was giving evidence to the al-Sweady inquiry, named after an alleged victim of abuse by British troops following what is known as the Battle of Danny Boy, a British checkpoint in south-east Iraq in May 2004.
Kelly refused to give evidence until the inquiry chairman, Sir Thayne Forbes, agreed to an interim order preventing the publication of photographs of him in central London and closing down a video link to prevent his picture from being seen outside the inquiry room.
Questioned about claims made by other British soldiers, he told the inquiry on Monday that his recollection was very clear.
He denied a claim by Duncan Aston, a soldier in the 2nd Battalion of Princess of Wales Royal Regiment who gave evidence to the inquiry last week, who said Kelly emptied a full magazine into the “twitching” bodies of insurgents.
Kelly was awarded the Military Cross for his actions in two earlier engagements in Iraq but left the army in 2006 “having become disillusioned with army life”.