Defense Ministry asked why it withheld evidence of 33 alleged Afghan civilian executions | Department of Defense

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British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has been ordered by a court to explain why the government withheld evidence suggesting SAS soldiers executed 33 civilians in Afghanistan in early 2011.

The minister has until the fall to explain why emails and key documents revealing official concerns about the murder spree had previously not been disclosed in a case involving the deaths of four men from one family during the ‘a night raid.

An SAS sergeant major described the episode as “the last massacre!” in an email sent the next morning, after the mission report was submitted. “I’ve heard a few rumors,” the junior officer added, according to documents first revealed by BBC Panorama and The Sunday Times.

Another document revealed that a secret examination had been carried out into the suspicious killings and the series of related incidents, in which the SAS killed men of combat age, claiming they had picked up a gun or a grenade, often while a search of the premises was in progress. .

Covering the period from January to April 2011, the study noted that in three operations, 23 people were killed and 10 weapons recovered. “In my opinion, there is enough here to convince me that we are wrong right now,” they wrote.

An SAS commander responded to his superiors in London warning them that there was “perhaps a deliberate policy” and that the SAS troops had potentially engaged in “indefensible behavior” which could be considered “criminal”.

The cache emerged as part of a lengthy court hearing brought by Saifullah Yar, whose father, two brothers and a cousin were killed in a raid on a compound in southern Afghanistan.

Yar’s father was killed after being taken back to his home by the SAS, who claimed he seized a grenade; her cousin was also killed in the house after allegedly picking up an assault rifle.

His two brothers were killed outside the compound. Despite claims that they were also armed with a grenade and an assault rifle, the family say no one in the house had such weapons.

British government lawyers had previously argued that the Defense Ministry was not aware of any complaints about the murders until the Yar family first filed a lawsuit in 2013 – a claim contradicted by the latest round of revelations.

The case was investigated by military police from March 2014 and was part of Operation Northmoor’s expanded investigation into 675 alleged war crimes in Afghanistan. No charges have ever been laid in the case of the Yar family.

Tessa Gregory, an attorney for Leigh Day, who acts for Yar, said her client wanted to find out what happened over 9 years ago. “What has been revealed adds significantly to our client’s concern that there was a cover-up and it left him more determined than ever to find out the truth about what happened to his loved ones.

Last November, it emerged that military police had questioned 54 soldiers who had been involved in the operation that led to the Yar family’s killings. At the time, government lawyers said, “None of these staff members could specifically remember the operation in question.”

The SNP said the documents revealed to the court amounted to “war crimes allegations” and that party defense spokesman Stewart McDonald said it raised serious questions for Wallace as they appeared to suggest that “The SAS was using a ‘deliberate policy’ to shoot. unarmed men killed during these night raids ”.

“It is now clear that when ministers repeatedly told Parliament that credible evidence did not exist, that such credible evidence did not only exist, but was in the Ministry of Defense all the time,” McDonald said.

The Defense Ministry said “this is not new evidence,” adding that the case has already been investigated by police under Northmoor and reviewed four times by an independent team. .

“These documents were considered part of independent investigations, which concluded that there was not enough evidence to refer the case to prosecution,” said a spokesperson.

“The police and prosecution services of course remain open to examining allegations if new evidence, intelligence or information comes to light.”

Operation Northmoor was halted in June by ministers without any prosecution; Veterans Affairs Minister Johnny Mercer said, “I said this government was going to fight the law, and I really meant it.

The ministers plan to introduce a bill that would introduce a quasi-amnesty against prosecution for veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and any other conflict abroad for more than five years. The legislation is expected in the fall.

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