Afghanistan ‘unlawful killings’: Taliban can testify in probe into allegations against British soldiers, judge says | UK News

A senior judge has asked for evidence relating to allegations of unlawful activity by the British Armed Forces in Afghanistan by anyone – including the Taliban.

Sir Charles Haddon-Cave, who is chairing an independent inquiry, said his team “will do everything in their power to facilitate the receipt and hearing of evidence”.

The survey is set for examine allegations of unlawful activities by the British Armed Forces during deliberate detention operations (DDO) in Afghanistan from mid-2010 to mid-2013.

It stems from two DDOs that occurred in February 2011 and October 2012, when members of the Saifullah and Noorzai families were killed.

For years, both families have called for a full investigation into the murders.

Asked what would happen if the Taliban wanted to submit evidence to the inquiry, Sir Charles said he would hear from anyone with evidence.

In 2019 and 2020, the two families launched judicial review proceedings against the Ministry of Defense (MoD) challenging its failure to properly investigate the circumstances of their loved ones’ deaths.

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During the High Court proceedings in the Saifullah case, documents released by the Ministry of Defense revealed communications between British Army officers which they said showed widespread knowledge and concern about the Murders: Only hours after the murders, the four deaths were described by a British officer as the “last massacre!”.

In another document, a newly qualified officer said: “During these operations, it was said that all men of fighting age are killed on target, regardless of the threat they pose.”

A special forces officer said: “I find it depressing that it has come to this… ultimately a massive failure of leadership.

“If we don’t believe it then no one else will and when the next Wikileaks happen we will be dragged down with them.”

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The families had argued that Ministry of Defense documents showed serious and sustained concerns raised internally, including at the highest levels of UK Special Forces Headquarters, had not been reported to the Military Police.

Lord Justice Haddon-Cave, Chairman of the Independent Afghanistan Inquiry, reads an opening statement during the official launch of the inquiry at the International Dispute Resolution Centre, London.  Picture date: Wednesday March 22, 2023.
Sir Charles Haddon-Cave leads the investigation

Lord Justice Haddon-Cave said: “The allegations which the inquest must examine – and they are, I emphasize, only allegations at this stage – are extremely serious.

“First, that many unlawful killings were carried out by certain members of the British Armed Forces during this period.

“Secondly, that these unlawful killings were covered up to prevent what happened from being revealed.

“And, thirdly, that the lengthy investigations by the Royal Military Police were insufficient.

“It is clearly important that anyone who has broken the law be referred to the proper authorities for investigation; and likewise those who have done nothing wrong should rightly be removed from the cloud of suspicion.

“It is essential, both for the reputation of the armed forces and of the country.”

The independent statutory inquiry was commissioned by Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace.

A further case management hearing is due to be held on April 25 in London – where a more detailed timetable will be set.


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