Bill English: 'There is no basis for an inquiry' into SAS raid in Afghanistan

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The Government will not hold an inquiry into an SAS raid in Afghanistan in 2010 that allegedly left six civilians dead, Prime Minister Bill English has announced.

Mr Bill English says he has concluded there is no basis for ordering an inquiry following calls for one to reconcile differences between the accounts given by the authors of the book Hit and Run and the facts provided by the Defence Force Commander Lieutenant General Tim Keating.

Nicky Hager, who co-wrote the book with Jon Stephenson, responded to Mr English's decision by alleging it was "the result of military pressure on the government: the tail wagging the dog".

"Most of all, Bill English has just ensured that the issue will continue to boil and fester. It is not going to go away until it is properly addressed," he said.

Mr English said he was today given a detailed briefing by Lieutenant General Keating and a number of other senior officers about the raid.

Bill English says 'no evidence has been presented' of civilian casualties in a 2010 operation.
Source: 1 NEWS

"After considering Lieutenant General Keating's briefing, his letter to Mr Brownlee and viewing video footage of the operation, I have concluded there is no basis for ordering an inquiry," Mr English said.

On Friday, Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee had received a detailed letter from Mr Keating stating that he had received all the documentation available about the operation.

Bill English says he's reviewed the evidence, including watching a video.
Source: 1 NEWS

"Lieutenant General Keating has informed Mr Brownlee that the material clearly shows personnel involved in the operation took deliberate and careful steps to ensure that it was conducted according to the law of armed conflict," Mr English said.

"It also shows the operation was overseen by a Defence Force legal officer and that personnel took all feasible precautions to minimise potential civilian casualties and the destruction of property.

"At the same time, scrutiny has revealed some significant errors in the book including the book's authors now acknowledging that they got the location of the operation wrong.

"It did not take place in the two villages they provided geo references for in their book but at a different location about two kilometres away."

Mr English said should evidence emerge in the future that New Zealand troops acted unlawfully, "the government would of course take every step to establish the truth".

The raid followed the death of Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell while on patrol days earlier that month, leading to accusations that the raid was simply conducted for revenge.

A detailed rebuttal of the book's claims was made by the Defence Force last Monday.

Mr Keating said then that while the NZDF has acknowledged there may have been some civilian casualties, none were confirmed, and that there were nine insurgents killed during the raid, not six civilians.

An inquiry has been ruled out into claims made against the SAS in Afghanistan in the 'Hit & Run' book.
Source: 1 NEWS

The raids took place in the village of Tirgiran, not in Naik and Khak Khuday Dad two kilometres away as alleged in the book, the NZDF said.


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