Reporters Without Borders today welcomed the US army’s belated decision to investigate the 22 March shooting incident in southern Iraq in which ITN reporter Terry Lloyd was killed and two members of Lloyd’s crew went missing. But the organisation deplored the fact that enquiry was not ordered sooner. The decision to hold the enquiry was reported to ITN by Col. Ray Sheperd of Centcom in Qatar on 28 April.
"It was high time the US army decided to investigate this tragic incident," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said. "It is a safe bet that it was ITN’s independent enquiry in the field rather than Colin Powell’s promises that forced the US military to end their silence on the incident and offer an explanation."
While on an official visit to Brussels on 3 April, US secretary of state Colin Powell gave a "personal" undertaking to Fabienne Nerac, the wife of one of the two missing ITN crew members, to obtain information about the fate of her husband. She has so far not received any information from the Americans.
"ITN and my family have been asking the Americans to launch an investigation for the past 40 days," Fabienne Nerac said. "Now they finally have, and I hope we are going to receive information quickly. The Americans have promised to question their marines, locate the videotape recording they made at the site of the incident, and to give us a report on the progress of the investigation each week," she said.
In the 22 March incident, a four-member crew from Britain’s Independent Television News (ITN) came under fire near the southern city of Basra. The gunfire probably came from a group of US marines. ITN reporter Terry Lloyd, 51, was killed and Belgian cameraman Daniel Demoustier was wounded. The two other members of the crew, French cameraman Frédéric Nerac and Lebanese interpreter Hussein Othman, have been missing ever since.