The father of a young Army Red Cap who was murdered by an Iraqi mob believes a watch he gave his son as an 18th birthday present is being worn by a looter.

Reg Keys, whose Solihull-born son Thomas, aged 20, was one of six men killed in 2003, spoke out after gaining information under the Freedom of Information act from the British Government.

He said the papers recounted a witness statement of the last hours of his son's life.

Mr Keys said: "The soldiers were trapped by the men and one Iraqi asked the mob not to kill them and said he would give a witness statement.

"It was him that reported that a young man who robbed the dead bodies of the men is walking around wearing the watch I bought for his 18th birthday present. Yet he is allowed to walk free."

Mr Key's comments came last night as he labelled a letter from Iraq's Interior Minister as disappointing and patronising.

The minister's reply was in response to a joint plea by families of the soldiers for the authorities to bring the culprits to justice.

But Mr Keys said it had done more than the UK authorities to recognise the sacrifice of his son.

He said: "The letter is over polite to point of patronising. I know that others thought it was very good, but I get the feeling he is just laying a cushion for us to fall on.

"But at least the minister recognised our son. That is more than our Government has ever done.

It has never honoured our sons, they never received medals."

The military policemen were on a routine exercise in Majar al-Kabir in June 2003 when it is believed a gun fight broke out between locals and British paratroopers. An estimated 400 Iraqis descended on a police station where the Red Caps were staying, cornered and murdered them.

In his letter, Mr Al Boulani said: "I promise you that I will do my best by exerting every means to reach the criminals and bring them to justice.

"I hope that there will come a day when you will be here to see the criminals being tried before justice and also a procurement of a verdict against them, God willing.

"The blood of your sons has become part of the price of future generations to live in freedom."

In February 2006, a court in Baghdad issued arrest warrants for eight suspects but nobody has been detained despite pressure from the UK Government.

In frustration Mr Keys, along with Mike Aston, whose 30-year-old son Russell was one of those who was killed, and John Miller, who lost his 21-year-old son Simon, sent a letter to the Iraqi government in March last year.

Both Mr Aston and Mr Miller said they were happy with Mr Al Boulani's response Mr Keys said he was grateful that Mr Al Boulani had responded, but had hoped for a promise to act on the arrest warrants.

He said: "I do not understand why we have to stand around playing political games.

"When, in 2003, the coffins came back to the UK, Jack Straw promised to hunt down these men and bring them to justice. But we don't need to hunt them down, we know where they are."

Fear of reprisal from powerful tribes in the province, may be the reason why local Iraqi authorities had unwilling to act, Mr Keys added.

"But there is no reason why a team of 30 British troops and 30 Iraqis could not enter the province and arrest these men now," he said.

A Ministry of Defence inquiry into the deaths found they could not have been prevented. In March 2006, a coroner recorded a narrative verdict of unlawful killing. Coroner Nicholas Gardiner said the six men should have been better equipped, but their deaths could not have been avoided.

The six Red Caps killed were Sgt Simon Hamilton-Jewell, 41, from Chessington, Surrey; Cpl Russell Aston, 30, Swadlincote, Derbyshire; Cpl Paul Long, 24, Tyne and Wear; L/Cpl Benjamin McGowan Hyde, 23, Northallerton, North Yorkshire; L/Cpl Tom Keys, 20, Bala, North Wales; and Cpl Simon Miller, 21, Tyne and Wear.