British soldiers and Ministry of Defence officials were aware of – and failed to properly investigate – a series of alleged massacres of 33 Afghan men by SAS soldiers at the peak of the conflict around a decade ago, 裁判所は聞いた.
The claim is being made on behalf of Saifullah Yar, four of whose male relatives were killed in a special forces night raid, and whose lawyers raised a string of questions as to whether the British military had concealed what happened.
Richard Hermer QC, representing Yar, told the high court on Tuesday that there had been allegations of “patterns of unlawful killings and a cover-up” as he sought to obtain further records relating to alleged SAS executions of “fighting-age males”.
Yar’s father, two brothers and a cousin were killed in an SAS raid on a compound in Helmand, southern アフガニスタン 2月中 2011. The soldiers said they acted in self defence against men who carried assault rifles and grenades, but the family deny they possessed the weapons.
Lawyers representing Yar want Mr Justice Swift to order the MoD to release further official documents – but the department said that Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, had adopted “a duty of candour” and had released 1,800 pages of material so far.
“This is not a public inquiry and there is not a duty to provide any document that might look embarrassing,” said Lisa Giovannetti QC, acting for the minister.
The court hearing was part of a wider judicial review claim, in which a judge will have to decide if the MoD broke human rights law by failing to commence a “prompt investigation” into the Yar family killings – and whether it failed to investigate “systemic issues”, to see if there was a pattern of battlefield executions.
Other disputed killings took place in the week before the deadly raid on the Yar family compound, Hermer told the court. In one incident nine people were killed in similar circumstances, while in a second a single person died.
Emails revealed that “senior officers were raising concern about the way the SAS was operating”, Hermer said, and that there were “implausible explanations that Afghans were shot and killed after going to their homes and returning with weapons”.
Other emails released by the MoD in relation to the Yar family case showed two British officers discussing the incident later that day on email, under the heading “EJK” – extrajudicial killings. “They express astonishment that those involved seemed to be beyond reproach,」彼は法廷に語った.
“Why are we the only one who see this bollocks for what it is?” one of the officers wrote at the time.
Further deadly incidents took place in the weeks following, prompting another officer to set down their concerns in a statement written in March 2011, 書き込み: “During these operations it was said that all fighting age males are killed on target regardless of the threat they posed. this included those not holding weapons…
“It was implied that photos would be taken of the deceased alongside weapons that the fighting age male may not have had in their position when they were killed.”
A short internal military review of 11 separate incidents took place April 2011. Officers did recommend that service police investigate, but it spent only a week on the ground, and was accused of “uncritically accepting” accounts provided by soldiers involved.
ザ・ 11 incidents were referred to Operation Northmoor in 2014, which was responsible for investigating alleged war crimes by British forces in Afghanistan, but it was closed in 2020 without any prosecutions being made. Investigators did not review video footage, which could have been been of relevant incidents, 裁判所は聞いた.
The MoD said it did not intend to respond to Hermer’s version of events. Giovannetti said “that shouldn’t be taken as agreement or that it is accepted”.
The hearing is due to last four days, some parts of which may be held in private, with a judgment expected at a later date. The full case will also be heard at a later date.