THE Metropolitan Police have opened an investigation into war crimes allegedly committed by British mercenaries in Sri Lanka during the 1980s.
The force’s War Crime Team has begun a scoping exercise under Crown Prosecution Service guidelines, the Foreign Office has told the UN Working Group on Mercenaries (UNWGM).
The probe follows the publication earlier this year of Keenie Meenie: the British Mercenaries Who Got Away with War Crimes, by former Morning Star journalist Phil Miller.
Mr Miller exposed how British military veterans from a company called Keenie Meenie Services (KMS) evaded accountability for their part in war crimes against Tamil civilians at the start of Sri Lanka’s civil war.
KMS became involved in the conflict after a special adviser to then British prime minister Margaret Thatcher suggested that British support for the south Asian country’s security forces “might be privatised.”
The company trained a new Sri Lankan police unit called the Special Task Forces (STF) which became notorious for carrying out atrocities, including the 1987 massacre at a prawn farm in which 85 people were killed.
KMS also hired British pilots who flew helicopter gunships on combat missions, such as an alleged raid on a village in 1985 in which 16 people died.
The London-based Tamil Information Centre (TIC) raised the findings with the UNWGM, which then submitted its concerns about KMS to the Foreign Office, asking what criminal measures the government had taken to “combat impunity.”
Criminologist Dr Rachel Seoighe, who alerted the UN on behalf of the TIC, said: “It is welcome that the Metropolitan Police have finally begun to investigate what KMS did in Sri Lanka, after allowing British mercenaries to operate with impunity for so long.
“The UN was right to raise concerns about the lack of action by the British authorities.
“Tamil survivors have waited decades to see those responsible for the massacres of loved ones held accountable.”
The UN also wrote to special-forces veteran David Walker, now aged 78, who ran KMS in the 1980s while serving as a Conservative councillor in Surrey, seeking answers to the allegations
Mr Walker did not respond to the agency and has previously refused to co-operate with a US investigation into claims that KMS bombed a hospital in Nicaragua during the Contra war in 1985.