London court rules Tom Hurndall was 'intentionally killed'

 A British peace campaigner, shot dead by an Israeli soldier in Gaza, in April 2003, was 'intentionally killed' - an inquest ruled yesterday. Tom Hurndall, 22, from Tufnell Park, north London, was shot while he escorted schoolchildren across a road in the Palestinian town of Rafah. A soldier has already been jailed for his manslaughter, but Mr Hurndall's family say they believe blame goes higher up. The coroner is now writing to the Attorney General about this case and the death of James Miller, who was shot three weeks later. Tom Hurndall, a journalism and photography student at Manchester Metropolitan University, was with the International Solidarity Movement. He died from his injuries at the Royal Free Hospital in north London, nine months after the shooting. Hundreds attended his memorial service at Westminster Cathedral in March 2004. The jury at St Pancras Coroners Court ruled that Tom Hurndall had been unlawfully killed. It said: "He was shot intentionally with the intention of killing him. The jury would like to express its dismay with the lack of cooperation from the Israeli authorities." In a statement issued yesterday, the Israeli Embassy in London declined to say why a representative from Israel had not attended the inquest. It said: "Israel has expressed its regret at the death of Tom Hurndall and sends its sincere condolences to his family." It explained that a Sergeant Taysir Hayb had begun serving an eight year prison sentence for manslaughter and that the Israeli authorities "had maintained close contact with both the Hurndall family and the British authorities throughout Sgnt Hayb's trial." "However complicated the situation may be, the legal authorities in Israel are committed to thoroughly investigating cases of civilian casualties and, where a criminal act has been committed, bringing those responsible to justice." Tom Hurndall's family say they now want the British Government to carry out its own investigation of five officers named during the inquest. Coroner Dr Andrew Reid said he will also write to the Attorney General to see if there is any further legal action which could be taken relating to Tom Hurndall's death and that of James Miller. Mr Miller, aged 34, was killed by a member of the Israeli Defence Force just a mile away in Rafah three weeks after Mr Hurndall was shot. An inquest held into his death last week, also presided over by Dr Reid, decided Mr Miller had been murdered. Speaking after yesterday's verdict, Tom's father, Anthony Hurndall, said: "It's now down to the British Government to take action. There have been five officers of the Israeli army named in the proceedings today and they should be investigated by the government here. "British citizens in Israel are not safe, nor are the local civilians safe. "So, both as a matter to protect British citizens but also as a matter of the Geneva Conventions Act, the British government is obliged to pursue those who commit any war crime and illegal killing is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions Act." He said that he would consider bringing a private prosecution against the individuals he believes killed his son. Speaking of the ex-soldier convicted of his son's manslaughter, Mr Hurndall said: "He would say he's been scapegoated. He was simply doing what he had been told." Family solicitor Michael Mansfield QC said: "This has been a long and harrowing struggle for the Hurndalls in their search for the truth. Today is a vindication of that struggle." "Make no mistake about it, the Israeli Defence Force have today been found culpable by this jury of murder." He said he wanted the British Government to bring about the extradition of senior commanding officers, so they can be held accountable in British courts.

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