Details of shooting by Afghan soldier on UK base in Helmand province revealed by MoD as part of Baha Mousa inquiry
A prisoner has been “executed” on a British base in Helmand province by an Afghan soldier, Ministry of Defence documents have disclosed.
The shooting of the detainee on the small UK-controlled patrol base in Musa Qala in March was revealed in an MoD training manual for troops deploying to Afghanistan. The manual was released as part of the Baha Mousa public inquiry into abuse of Iraqi prisoners.
British troops did not directly witness the killing but were, it is believed, nearby at the time. They handed the Afghan soldier over to local authorities but it is not known what then happened to him, despite a subsequent inquiry into the affair.
The revelation came as the MoD admitted having paid £102,000 to the families of at least 35 Afghan civilians killed as a result of Nato operations in Afghanistan.
Compensation claims relating to the deaths of another 17 Afghans are still under investigation, according to data released by the MoD in response to a freedom of information request.
Campaigners have long expressed concerns about the treatment of Afghan prisoners captured by British forces. In June, anti-war activist Maya Evans won a partial victory in her high court challenge against Britain’s policy of transferring Taliban suspects to the Afghan authorities.
She said the policy had led to “horrible abuse” of detainees in violation of international law and human rights.
The MoD training manual, which has a “restricted” security classification, outlines how UK forces should treat detainees captured during operations. Referring to the current situation in Afghanistan, it says: “Allegations of detainee abuse by ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces] and Isaf [the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force] troops continue – some reported to ICRC [the International Commission of the Red Cross] … Alleged that during Mar 10 a [sic] ANA [Afghan National Army] soldier ‘executed’ a detainee who was in their custody within a British-controlled PB [patrol base].”
Musa Qala was under the control of soldiers from the Household Cavalry at the time the detainee was shot dead. The district was handed over to the US Marines shortly afterwards and a programme to expand the Afghan security forces introduced.
Concerns have, however, been expressed about the quality and allegiance of some of the new recruits. In July an Afghan soldier murdered three British troops from 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles at a base near Helmand’s capital, Lashkar Gah.
An MoD spokesman said: “UK forces were in the vicinity when a member of the ANA shot and killed a detainee at a patrol base in Musa Qala in March this year.”
“UK investigators provided immediate assistance at the scene and passed evidence gathered to the Afghan National Army, as was appropriate, for further investigation.
“Working as part of Isaf, we will continue to offer support, advice and mentoring to the ANA on the proper treatment of those in their custody.
“The overwhelming majority of soldiers serving in the ANA are loyal, courageous and professional.
“The ANA is developing well as a fighting force in Afghanistan and is becoming increasingly capable of participating in operations with Isaf forces as is shown by their growing independence in operations.”
He added: “We will continue to work closely with the government of Afghanistan and the international community to build the capacity of the ANA and police.”
Meanwhile, a multimillion-pound compensation deal has been agreed with the families of crewmen who died when their Nimrod aircraft exploded over Afghanistan.
The MoD declined to reveal the exact figure but it is believed to be in the region of £15m according to the Mail on Sunday.
The deal comes two years after the families first raised legal action over the 2006 crash which killed 14 crewmen and prompted a scathing review which accused the MoD of sacrificing safety to cut costs.