US helicopter killings in Iraq must be independently investigated

Amnesty International has called for an independent, thorough and impartial investigation into the 12 July 2007 helicopter attacks portrayed in a leaked classified US military video in which up to a dozen people, including a journalist and his driver, were killed.The 39 minute video released on Monday by Wikileaks appears to show a helicopter gunsight video with an audio track of conversation among the crew opening fire on a group of men, a couple of whom appear to be armed, moving about a square in eastern Baghdad.It also shows further firing on a van which arrives, apparently to evacuate the wounded and the dead. Two children were wounded in the incident.”This highly disturbing video appears to show that after the initial attack, US troops opened fire on people seeking to assist a wounded man, injuring two children, and killing several more people,” said Malcolm Smart, director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa programme. “These troubling images can not be viewed or judged in isolation and must be put into the context of what else was happening in the vicinity.”The US authorities must disclose any further information or footage that will shed light on this and they must conduct a proper investigation to determine whether US forces adhered to the rules of international humanitarian law and took necessary precautions to spare civilians.” Amnesty International has called for the incidents depicted in the video to be independently investigated and for reparation, including compensation, to be made available to victims of violations of international humanitarian law. A US military investigation into the attack concluded that correct rules of engagement were followed, although those killed and injured included civilians. Wikileaks said the men in the square included Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his assistant and driver Saeed Chmagh, 40, who were killed in the incident.