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  • Based on leaked documents the accusations include assassinations, deaths in custody, beatings, torture, and sexual abuse.

    Based on leaked documents the accusations include assassinations, deaths in custody, beatings, torture, and sexual abuse. | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 November 2019

The ICC said it is examining the accusations "very seriously", according to the BBC.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) may investigate for the first time war crimes allegedly committed by British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq against civilians, according to a BBC program broadcasted Monday.

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An investigation led by the BBC and the Sunday Times revealed Sunday that killings of civilians including children during wars in the Middle East have been hidden by the United Kingdom’s government and its armed forces.

After the report was published the country’s Ministry of Defense denied the allegations. While the ICC said it is examining the accusations "very seriously," according to the BBC.

The Labour party has, in addition, urged the government to respond to the claims of covering up the crimes.

"The ICC said it would independently assess the BBC's findings and would begin a landmark case if it believed the government was shielding soldiers from prosecution," the news media reported Monday.

The investigation found that British units were implicated in war crimes. The soldiers’ behavior during the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq was documented by two government-ordered inquiries - the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) and Operation Northmoor - which investigated war crimes during the occupation in Afghanistan. 

British government closed IHAT and Operation Northmoor’s investigations in 2017 after Phil Shiner, a lawyer who had registered more than 1,000 allegations, was suspended from practicing law as a consequence of an accusation of paying fixers in Iraq to find clients.

However, some former IHAT and Operation Northmoor detectives say Shiner's actions served as a pretext to shut down the inquiries after wrongdoings at the highest levels were discovered. None of the cases investigated by IHAT or Operation Northmoor resulted in a prosecution.

The year-long investigation based on leaked documents kept secret by the government, claims it has found solid evidence of crimes including assassinations by a soldier from the elite SAS unit, as well as deaths in custody, beatings, torture, and sexual abuse of detainees by members of the Black Watch infantry unit.

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