French TV to show images of US helicopter killing civilian Iraqis

Tue May 04 2004 08:59:08 ET

French cable television station Canal Plus on Tuesday will broadcast images, stolen in Iraq, of a US army helicopter killing three Iraqis who do not appear to be posing any threat, one of whom was wounded.

The show "Merci pour l'info" (Thanks for the news) obtained the footage, seen by an AFP correspondent, from a "European working as a subcontractor for the US army" who left Iraq two weeks ago.

The man claims to have hidden the tape, dated December 1, 2003 and filmed at an unidentified location in Iraq, at the US base where he lived and worked.

The three-and-a-half minutes of footage were taken from the helicopter firing at the three individuals, who were considered by the US military to be suspicious.

Conversations between the helicopter pilot, the sharpshooter and their commanding officer -- who had a video link and is giving orders in real time -- can be heard on the tape.

The footage shows how the three men were killed one after the other. After the deaths of his two companions, the third attempted to hide under a truck, but was hit by helicopter gunfire.

"Got the guy right here," says the sharpshooter, as the wounded man is seen crawling on the ground.

"Good. Fire. Hit him," replies the officer.

In March, the rights watchdog group Amnesty International said "scores of civilians have been killed apparently as a result of excessive use of force by US troops, or have been shot dead in disputed circumstances."

The broadcast also comes as the United States confronts mounting anger over the alleged abuse of coalition prisoners in Iraq and the release of photos showing US troops humiliating Iraqi detainees.