The outlets spokes to 11 British detectives, all unnamed, who said they found “credible evidence of war crimes.”
The new evidence has come from inside the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), which investigated alleged war crimes committed by British troops during the occupation of Iraq, and Operation Northmoor, which investigated alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.
IHAT and Operation Northmoor were shut down, after a lawyer – Phil Shiner was proven to have paid fixers in Iraq to find clients for his cases.
As per the unnamed detectives, Shiner’s actions were simply used as a justification to close down the investigations. Not a single one of the cases investigated by IHAT and Operation Northmoor resulted in any convictions.
One IHAT detective told BBC:
“The Ministry of Defence had no intention of prosecuting any soldier of whatever rank he was unless it was absolutely necessary, and they couldn’t wriggle their way out of it.”
Another one said the victims of war crimes had been badly let down:
“I use the word disgusting. And I feel for the families because… they’re not getting justice. How can you hold your head up as a British person?”
The unnamed detectives have reportedly probed a 2012 SAS raid on a compound in Helmand Province where three unarmed children and a young man were shot dead. In the incident, one special forces soldier reportedly entered a side building and killed four young inhabitants.
According to the investigation by the BBC and the Times, the special forces soldier told his superiors he shot his weapon because they were standing up with what looked like weapons, despite bullet marks on the walls suggesting they were all sitting when shot.
They separately investigated the alleged “daily” abuse of prisoners by the Black Watch regiment in Basra in 2003, and the fatal shooting of an Iraqi policeman that also took place in 2003. The team gathered evidence allegedly proving that two inmates were killed after heavy physical and sexual violence.
Despite allegedly photographing one of the men, Radhi Nama, in hospital with injuries on his face, Royal Military Police investigators allegedly accepted the soldiers’ account that he had died of a heart attack.
The UK government denied all of these allegations of a cover-up and, of course, that war crimes had even taken place.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that the prosecuting authorities for the British armed forces are “some of the most rigorous in the world”.
“All of the allegations that had evidence have been looked at by the armed forces prosecuting authorities because we want to have accountability where there’s wrongdoing,” he said.
“What we’re quite rightly doing is making sure spurious claims or claims without evidence don’t lead to the shadow of suspicion, the cloud of suspicion hanging over people who have served their country for years on end – and we’ve got the right balance.”
The BBC received a comment from a Ministry of Defense spokesperson:
“Investigations and decisions to prosecute are rightly independent from the MoD and have involved external oversight and legal advice. After careful consideration of referred cases, the independent Service Prosecuting Authority decided not to prosecute.
The BBC’s claims have been passed to the Service Police and the Service Prosecuting Authority who remain open to considering allegations.”
At the same time, the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that it took the findings of the outlets’ investigation very seriously and that it could open up an investigation into war crimes. There’s nothing concrete, just that the ICC’s Prosecutor Office said it would “independently assess” the findings of the BBC and the Times and then a potential case could be opened.
The court has previously concluded there is credible evidence that British troops committed war crimes in Iraq, mostly in mistreating detainees.
The UK isn’t the only Western democracy accused of war crimes in the Middle East.
A recent report concluded that CIA-trained Afghan paramilitary forces were carrying out frequent war crimes, in addition to the US troops themselves carrying them out in various airstrikes and other operations.
The US denied all the allegations, but it went a step further – it accused the Taliban for being responsible for all war crimes, since the local civilian population were sometimes being forced into helping them or were helping them out of their volition. And if they were helping the Taliban then becoming a casualty of an attack was well warranted.
The ICC furthermore is investigating the US for war crimes, and Washington is actively attempting to sabotage the investigation.
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- US Pressures International Criminal Court Prosecutor In Attempt To Sabotage Investigation Of War Crimes In Afghanistan
- American War Crimes in Afghanistan Exposed by WikiLeaks and a New UN Report
- CIA-trained Afghan Paramilitary Forces Carry Out Frequent War Crimes: Human Rights Watch