Charges against two Iraqis accused of the murders of six British military policemen, including a soldier from Solihull, more than seven years ago have been dropped by a judge in Baghdad.
Lance Corporal Tom Keys, 20, from Solihull, was among the Red Caps who were killed when a mob of about 400 people attacked a police station in Majar al-Kabir, southern Iraq, in June 2003.
Hamza Hateer and Mussa Ismael al Fartusi were due to stand trial at the central criminal court in Baghdad but the case was dropped at a hearing yesterday.
It was reported that Chief Justice Baleagh Hamdi Hikmat dropped the charges saying there was not enough evidence to prosecute.
The judge adjourned a hearing last month to give witnesses time to travel but no eyewitnesses were brought into court today.
The three-judge panel questioned nine people - mostly Iraqi police - but none said they saw the killings of the Royal Military Police officers near Basra.
One of those questioned said he saw one defendant taking the weapon of a dead soldier.
The court said it will pursue charges on the theft but the murder charge was dropped.
The Red Caps had been training local Iraqi officers when the police station came under attack on June 24, 2003.
An inquest in March 2006 heard that some of their bodies were found riddled with bullets, while others had marks that suggested they had been dragged, tied up or beaten with rifles.
Coroner Nicholas Gardiner recorded a narrative verdict of unlawful killing, saying the six soldiers should have been better equipped but their deaths could not have been avoided.
The victims were Lance Corporal Tom Keys, 20, from Solihull; Sergeant Simon Hamilton-Jewell, 41, from Chessington, Surrey; Corporal Russell Aston, 30, from Swadlincote, Derbyshire; Corporal Paul Long, 24, of South Shields, Tyne and Wear; Corporal Simon Miller, 21, from Washington, Tyne and Wear; and Lance Corporal Benjamin Hyde, 23, from Northallerton, North Yorkshire.
The father of Corporal Simon Miller said he was “devastated” by the news and criticised the decision to deny the families access to the court.
He also attacked the UK government over its handling of the case and its alleged failure to keep relatives informed.
John Miller, 59, from Washington, Tyne and Wear, said: “My son was let down so badly in life, now he has been let down so badly in death.”
“I’m devastated, I just can’t believe it.”
A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said: “We know that the families of the six servicemen will be devastated by today’s events and our thoughts remain with them.
“Seven further arrest warrants remain outstanding and are being actively pursued by the Iraqi authorities.
“We will continue to do all we can to press for the prosecution of those responsible.”