Army cover-up storm over ‘child murder and torture’ by UK troops
BRITISH officials and military officers covered up torture and child murder by soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, it was reported yesterday.
The accusations were based on information from 11 British detectives involved in investigating war crimes charges, who said soldiers should have been prosecuted for murder.
It follows a decade of legal and political argument over cruelty and unjustified killings laid at the door of British troops serving in Iraq following the 2003 war and in operations in Afghanistan. One £31million inquiry found the most serious claims of murder and torture in Iraq were false.
Yesterday’s accusations were produced by the BBC’s Panorama programme and The
Sunday Times. They were said to have been made by un-named detectives who were part of the Iraq Historical Allegations Team, which looked at alleged war crimes in Iraq, and of Operation Northmoor, which investigated alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.
Among cases raised was that of an Iraqi policeman, Raid al-Mosawi, shot in an alley by soldiers in Basra in 2003. Panorama and the newspaper said a British officer had concluded the policeman had fired first. Detectives said the soldier who shot the policeman should be prosecuted over the killing and his commanding officers charged with covering it up.
There were also allegations that abuse of prisoners in 2003 at Camp Stephen, a detention centre in Basra, led to at least two deaths.
Witness statements claim soldiers from the Black Watch seized Iraqi men from their homes before taking them to the camp. More than ten Army whistleblowers gave evidence that detainees were subjected to severe physical abuse.
Another incident involved the shooting by the SAS of four members of the same family in Afghanistan in October 2012. The Sunday Times said the
‘Appalled by this witch-hunt’
victims were youths aged 20 and 17, and boys aged 14 and 12, and that teacups from which they had been drinking were left ‘filled with blood’.
The Ministry of Defence denied a cover-up, saying: ‘Allegations that the MoD interfered with investigations or prosecution decisions relating to the conduct of UK forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are untrue. Throughout the process the decisions of prosecutors and the investigators have been independent of the MoD.’
Lawyer Hilary Meredith, who represented soldiers investigated over Iraq allegations, said: ‘I am appalled by this ongoing witch-hunt against our brave servicemen and women. This so-called new evidence has no credibility. It is flawed, baseless and biased.’