torika bolatagici

Soldier ‘killed by rifle joke pal’

In Uncategorized on April 14, 2008 at 10:43 pm

Reporter of the Year

Published: Today

A SOLDIER faces a manslaughter charge for allegedly killing a hero comrade by blasting him in the head with a sniper rifle in Iraq.

Killed … Rifleman Vakabua

Military cops believe Rifleman Aaron Kendrick cocked, aimed and fired the weapon inside barracks as “a stupid joke”.

He had no idea the L96 high-velocity rifle was loaded as he pointed it at Rifleman Edward Vakabua, 23, while he slept a few yards away in Basra. The giant Fijian, who had saved a wounded soldier’s life a month earlier, was killed instantly.

The shooting happened inside dictator Saddam Hussein’s former palace, which the 4th Battalion of the Rifles – dubbed the Lions of Basra – had made their headquarters.


Charged … Rifleman Kendrick

The war-weary soldiers had been taking a break from battling a massive militia uprising in southern Iraq in which they were taking heavy casualties.

Another 4 Rifles soldier at the base said: “What happened was just a mindless accident. Nobody thinks Edward was murdered.

“But at the same time it’s the number one rule in the Army that you don’t play around with weapons.

“It was appalling stupidity and someone deserves to get locked up for a long time.

“Edward’s death was the last thing we needed at the time and left everyone really down. The enemy were killing enough of us without any of us having to help them.”

During the probe into the shooting, detectives from the Red Caps’ Special Investigations Branch discovered Kendrick, in his early 20s, was never trained to use a sniper rifle.

The weapon had also been left loaded in the troops’ accommodation room against strict Army safety procedures.

Vakabua – described as “tough, proud, indomitable and courageous” – was buried in Fiji after the shooting on July 6 last year.

Charges for the killing will be pressed against Kendrick by the Army Prosecuting Authority this week, military sources told The Sun. If convicted, he faces a long spell in the Glasshouse – the military’s prison at Colchester, Essex.


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