West News Wire: According to ministerial announcements made last week, the UK will conduct a statutory investigation into claims that British SAS soldiers executed more than 50 people in Afghanistan without trial.
Minister for Defense Personnel Andrew Murrison stated in a speech to the legislature that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has bowed to demands for a “independent statutory probe,” according to The Guardian. Since the initial accusations of the suspected war crimes surfaced, the MoD had for years rejected calls for an impartial investigation.
It is alleged that between 2010 and 2011, an SAS unit in Helmand province killed 54 Afghans.
Lord Justice Haddon-Cave will oversee the investigation, which Murrison said will get under way “in earnest” in 2023.
“The public, and all those who serve in the military, are entitled to expect a fair, fearless and thorough examination of the facts and clear answers to the questions raised. I will seek to achieve this within a reasonable timescale,” Lord Justice Haddon-Cave said.
Shadow defence secretary John Healy welcomed the announcement, but expressed concern about the MoD’s willingness to cooperate with the inquiry.
“Too often the MoD responds with denial and delay,” Healy said.
“When confronted with the BBC Panorama reports about these allegations in July the MoD immediately dismissed them, as I quote: ‘Irresponsible, incorrect and jumping to unjustifiable considerations’.”
One high court case brought forward against the MoD by legal firm Leigh Day relates to the killing of an Afghan man’s father, two brothers and cousin during an SAS raid in 2011.
Evidence shown to court indicated that the SAS killed Afghan detainees after accusing them of producing weapons.
Internal military communications later revealed that a sergeant-major described the killings as “the latest massacre” in an email sent a day after the incident.
Lawyers for the man named only as ’Safiullah’ have sought a judicial review after accusing the MoD of failing to properly investigate allegations.