03:22, November 18 263 0 theguardian.com

2019-11-18 03:22:15
UK army accused of covering up war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan

The international criminal court may investigate the British military for the first time after allegations that war crimes had been committed, the BBC has reported.

The broadcaster’s Panorama programme has claimed killings of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq have been covered up by the state.

The Ministry of Defence said the allegations were unsubstantiated.

Leaked documents allegedly contain evidence implicating British troops in the killing of children and torture of civilians.

A BBC/Sunday Times inquiry said it had obtained new evidence from the Iraq historic allegations team (Ihat) that investigated alleged war crimes committed by British soldiers in Iraq, and Operation Northmoor, which investigated alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.

The government closed Ihat and Operation Northmoor in 2017, after Phil Shiner, a solicitor who had taken more than 1,000 cases to Ihat, was struck off from practising law amid allegations that he had paid people in Iraq to find clients.

But some former Ihat and Operation Northmoor investigators said Shiner’s actions were used as an excuse to close the inquiries. No case investigated by Ihat or Operation Northmoor has led to a prosecution.

The ICC said it took the accusations “very seriously”, according to the BBC.

“The ICC said it would independently assess the BBC’s findings and begin a landmark case if it believed the government was shielding soldiers from prosecution,” the corporation said on Monday morning.

The court has previously concluded it was credible that British troops committed war crimes in Iraq related to the mistreatment of detainees.

The year-long investigation claims to have found evidence of murders by an SAS soldier, as well as deaths in custody, beatings, torture and sexual abuse of detainees by members of the Black Watch.

A senior SAS commander was referred to prosecutors for attempting to pervert the course of justice, investigators claimed.

Panorama Investigation: War Crimes Scandal Exposed will be screened on BBC One at 9pm on Monday.