LONDON, April 15 (UPI) -- British officials have approved a hefty settlement to an Iraqi teenager left paralyzed when a soldier's rifle went off accidentally.
The youth will receive 2 million pounds ($3.9 million) for his injuries, which occurred in 2003 when a British solider on guard duty dropped his weapon, causing it to discharge.
The Times of London noted Tuesday that the sum was seven times what would be paid to a British soldier wounded in the line of duty, and members of Parliament warned it could lead to a spate of other high-priced claims by Iraqi civilians.
"If Iraqis were able to get access to British courts they would clearly be entitled to much higher levels of compensation, based on this precedent," said Vince Cable, spokesman for the Liberal Democrat Treasury.
But the Defense Ministry denied the case set a precedent. Officials said the payment reflected the fact that the injury had been caused by negligence and the victim would require medical care for the rest of his life.
The Times said the settlement would have to be approved by the High Court before it could be finalized.