SOLICITORS from a Belfast law firm are helping the relatives of Iraqi civilians shot dead by US soldiers at a Baghdad checkpoint to take legal action against the American military.

Three solicitors from Madden and Finucane, founded by Pat Finucane who was murdered in 1989, are planning a £9.5 million suit in the American civil courts on behalf of the families of six Iraqis killed at the checkpoint last month.

The solicitors compiled a dossier on the shooting after meeting in Iraq with the families, human rights groups and international lawyers.

One of the solicitors, Richie MacRitchie, said: “We have experience in dealing with state killings and especially with unarmed civilians being killed by security forces in Northern Ireland.

“If there are grave breaches of the Geneva Convention, ie war crimes, both Britain and America have an obligation to search for people suspected of committing these war crimes and bring them to justice.”

The US army is investigating the incident, in which it is alleged that its soldiers delayed getting medical treatment to two of those injured in the shooting and who later died.