Tape by dead British soldier accuses Blair’s general about Iraq war

Bush, Blair, and Iraq war, cartoon by Steve Bell

From the New Zealand Herald:

Tape from the grave accuses British army chief of lying

By Ian Herbert

LONDON – An inquest into the death of a British tank commander killed in Iraq has heard a tape he recorded three days before his death, in which he accuses the Army of telling “a blatant lie” by saying British troops were ready for war, and tells his wife: “I just want to come home.”

Sergeant Steve Roberts, 33, died in a “friendly fire” incident after he was attacked by a stone-wielding Iraqi man while manning a checkpoint outside the southern city of Az Zubayr on March 24, 2003.

Had he been wearing the enhanced combat body armour that should have been issued to troops, he would have survived, pathologists found.

But he was ordered to give it up three days before his death because of shortages.

An Army Board of Inquiry into Roberts’ death found that his Browning pistol failed.

He was shot by a soldier in a Challenger tank who was trying to protect him but did not know his gun was inaccurate at short range.

In a audiotape recorded as a letter for his wife, Samantha, Roberts, from Shipley in West Yorkshire, accuses the Chief of the General Staff at the time, Sir Mike Jackson, of lying by claiming that Britain was ready for war.

He tells her the military supplies are “disgraceful” and a “joke”, and adds he fears being attacked by Americans since his 2nd Royal Tank Regiment does not have the equipment to identify them as friendly forces.

He told her the troops didn’t get equipment they were told they were going to get. “It’s disheartening because we know we’re going to have to go to war without the correct equipment.”

The tape was recorded over a period from March 13, as the regiment prepared for battle, to March 23, the morning before he died.

Mrs Roberts, knew nothing of the tape until his funeral. She temporarily left Oxfordshire coroner’s court yesterday so that she did not have to hear it again.

Bush administration and Iraq war: here.

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