By: Syed Haroon Haider Gilani
James Henry Dominic Miller (18 December 1968 – 2 May 2003) was a Welsh cameraman, producer, and director, and recipient of numerous awards, including five Emmy Awards. He often worked with Saira Shah with whom he founded and operated an independent production company called Frostbite Productions in 2001. He was killed by a single shot fired by a soldier from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on 2 May 2003 while filming a documentary in Rafah. He is survived by his mother and father, his wife and their two children, Alexander, two, and Charlotte, five months.
The Israeli Military Police investigation into Miller’s death closed on 9 March 2005 with an announcement that the soldier suspected of firing the shot would not be indicted.
The British Government bows to Israel
On 6 April 2006, the inquest jury at St Pancras Coroner‘s Court in London returned a verdict of unlawful killing, finding that Miller had been “murdered.” At the inquest, the 10-strong jury heard how James Miller was holding a white flag lit up by a torch when he was shot in the neck. Mrs. Miller gave emotional evidence, telling of her husband’s death and the frustrations of the inquiry into his death.
She said: “The thing that is the hardest is that we (the family) were given assurance by the Israeli authorities and our government that this was being fully and thoroughly investigated.
And yet all the while it has been the family that has had to produce, investigate and provide the evidence in order to bring any form of justice and to date he hasn’t received any.
It would have been much easier for them (the Israeli authorities) if we had found it too difficult and they have given the impression that they were just trying to grind us down in the hope that we couldn’t go on.”
After meetings with the Miller family, the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, sent a formal request to his Israeli counterpart in June 2007 for prosecution proceedings to be enacted within six weeks against the soldier responsible for firing the shot.The requests were ignored by the Israeli government and prosecution proceedings were never enacted.
The family of James Miller called on the UK government to ensure his killer is prosecuted after an inquest into the British journalist’s death concluded he had been murdered. They were seeking a meeting with the prime minister, Tony Blair, the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, and the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, as early as tomorrow to press for further action following today’s verdict.
In a statement read by their barrister, Michael Mansfield, the family said the jury’s verdict had vindicated their three-year battle for the truth.
“This was a truth the Israeli authorities knew from the very beginning, but one that has had to be prised out in the face of obstruction and deceit by the Israeli perpetrators,” the family said.
Miller’s widow, Sophy, said the Israeli soldiers could not have been under any misapprehensions when he was killed.
“The soldiers were not under any threat – they knew him as a non-combatant and as a journalist,” she said. “Someone deliberately, slowly and methodically took target and killed him. That’s the very hardest thing. Today there’s a springboard for future justice to bring that soldier to account.”
Miller’s father, Geoffrey, who served as a colonel in the Royal Artillery in a 33-year army career, said he was unable to praise the British government’s response to his son’s death.
“From the outset they were not helpful – one might almost go as far as saying that at one stage they were almost as obstructive as the Israelis. After that they probably gave some encouragement and support, but they had been totally supine and ineffective.”
Another British family had a similarly unpleasant experience of Israeli “justice” when their son, Tom Hurndall, was murdered by the IDF in Gaza. Mr Hurndall’s father described a “culture of impunity” saying “they just lied continuously … it was a case of them shooting civilians and then making up a story. And they were not used to being challenged.”
It is within this culture of impunity that an Israel officer murdered in cold blood a Palestinian girl, Iman al-Hams, aged 13, shooting her 17 times, and afterwards commented that he was right to kill her and would have killed her even if she was three years old. A military investigation by the officer responsible for the Gaza strip subsequently concluded that the captain had “not acted unethically”