Inquest into soldier’s death starts on Monday

Lane Corporal Pritchard
Lane Corporal Pritchard
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THE INQUEST into the death of war hero Michael Pritchard, who was shot in Afghanistan, is taking place in Eastbourne on Monday.

The inquest is due to last for two weeks at Eastbourne Magistrates Court.

LCpl Pritchard was killed by a British sniper who had “eyes on” for some time. Michael and several colleagues were situated in an Observation Post at a Patrol Base on the roof of a building overlooking Route 611 in order to secure the route.

The sniper was at Remote Sangar some distance away and thought he was engaging insurgents digging in the road.

The sniper shot was fired over a Restricted Fire Line (RFL).

The inquest will investigate how the shot came to be fired including the actions of the sniper, colleagues and others in the chain of command.

The inquest is likely to examine who knew what about the Restricted Fire Line and whether the RFL was understood by all ranks.

There is also the aspect of Permission to Fire under Rules of Engagement.

Although the circumstances of Michael’s death were investigated by the Ministry Of Defence, confusion surrounds some of the events and there is some inconsistency in witness evidence – which is common in these circumstances, particularly in view of the number of people involved in this incident according to an MOD spokesperson.

The inquest is likely to consider question of intelligence information as to who knew about the location of the Observation Post, communications between the different Sangars and Patrol Bases, the sniper’s training, Friendly Force Night Marking, since there was small arms fire in the vicinity of Michael before the sniper shot and the question of fatigue.

The inquest will also consider body armour.

Michael’s commanding officer paid tribute to Michael after his death LCpl Pritchard was an exceptional soldier, professional and robust.

He said, “He was everything you wanted in a Military Policeman, morally and physically courageous, and the first to volunteer for even the toughest task...he was more than a good soldier, he was a loyal friend with a sincere and generous spirit and we all knew we could rely on him.

“In his honour, and that of other fallen comrades we will continue with the job in hand with absolute determination to succeed.”