AG mulls U.K. call to charge IDF troops with photographer's death
Mazuz tells London he will reconsider indicting soldiers for murder over 2003 killing of James Miller in Gaza.
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz will thoroughly examine the British government's demand that Israeli soldiers be indicted for murder, in the killing of photographer James Miller in Gaza in 2003, Israel promised London over the weekend.
However, in his conversation with Mark Lyall Grant, political director of the British Foreign Office, Israeli Ambassador Zvi Hefetz warned that Mazuz may not be able to complete his investigations by Tuesday, as London has demanded.
Peter Goldsmith, Britain's attorney general at the time of the incident, wrote Mazuz on June 26 requesting he clarify what he termed new information. He said that if Mazuz did not respond within six weeks, legal proceedings would be launched in Britain against the commander of the force that shot Miller, and who was cleared in a disciplinary hearing, as well as other soldiers and officers. This would necessitate seeking the soldiers' extradition under the Israel-Britain extradition treaty.
The British Foreign Office told Miller's family that Israel thinks the dispute can be resolved by payment of compensation to Miller's widow. However, Lyall Grant told Prosor, the proposed compensation will have to be increased substantially from the sum on offer until now.
Miller's brother, John, told Haaretz on Sunday that the sum Israel is currently offering is "insulting," equal to only two years of the slain photographer's earnings. He also said that he doubted Israel would either extradite the soldiers or try them itself, and even if it did try them, he doubted that justice would be done in an Israeli court.
In response, the Justice Ministry said that Mazuz thoroughly examined the case when Britain first protested the military advocate general's decision not to indict the soldiers, but has agreed to do so again in response to the new British appeal, and will respond "promptly, according to the Israeli authorities' timetable."
Miller was killed while filming a documentary in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, on the border with Egypt. According to Alrahman Abdallah, a freelance journalist who accompanied Miller as his translator, the photographer was shot as he tried to exit a Rafah house while holding a white flag.
A British inquiry, in part based on evidence from the video recording of the incident, showed that Miller was shot in the neck by an IDF patrol.
At the time the IDF expressed its sorrow for Miller's death and said that "the entry of photographers into war zones during exchanges of fire endangers both sides."
However, according to eyewitnesses, there had been calm in the area at the time of the shooting.
Initially, the IDF suggested that Miller had been killed by Palestinians. Ballistic tests carried out on behalf of Miller's family showed that IDF troops killed Miller, and the Military Advocate General ordered an investigation into the killing.
Following a lengthy investigation, it was decided in March 2005 not to press criminal charges against those involved because of insufficient evidence. The commander of the Israeli force that shot and killed Miller faced disciplinary proceedings for illegal use of firearms, but was exonerated.
Miller's family filed a suit against the State of Israel for murder, and in 2006 a British jury ruled the killing a murder.