Fresh claims of atrocities in Falklands war

Reports have emerged in Argentina and Britain supporting allegations that members of the Parachute Regiment killed enemy prisoners in the Falklands war.

As predicted in the Independent on Sunday last week, the allegations are now the subject of an inquiry. Metropolitan Police officers will start interviewing key witnesses this week in order to determine whether there are prima facie grounds for criminal prosecutions for murder.

The police have been told to look not at incidents which happened in 'the heat of battle'; they will examine allegations involving incidents which happened once 'Argentine prisoners were in custody', one police source said.

One of the first witnesses will be Vincent Bramley, a former Lance Corporal with 3 Para who fought at Mount Longdon, and whose book Excursion to Hell described two incidents in which prisoners were allegedly killed.

In one, three prisoners suspected of being mercenaries from the United States were said to have been shot, and in the second, two prisoners were put on to a clifftop and shot so that they fell into a burial pit below.

Last week, a former captain in Military Intelligence approached the Independent on Sunday with an account that supports one of the allegations. Adrian Weale, who left the Army last year and is now a writer and military historian, told how in 1987 he had met a soldier who described the killing of a prisoner at Mount Longdon.

Mr Weale said the member of 3 Para - whose name is known to the Independent on Sunday - told him that he saw a wounded Argentine dragged out of a bunker on top of a small cliff after the fighting and handed to an NCO, who asked an officer what to do with him. The witness alleges the officer pointed to a line of enemy dead at the foot of the cliff and said: 'Put him with the others.'

The NCO, he says, drew a pistol and - despite the prisoner's screaming for mercy and calling for his mother - shot him in the face so that he fell over the edge. Mr Weale said the eyewitness 'was shocked by the involvement of an officer in a very blatant murder and was stunned that no action was taken against the NCO'.

The Argentine government decided last week to call for witnesses to possible Falklands atrocities to come forward, to decide whether to hold its own formal investigation. One former soldier, Santiago Mambrin, 29, described yesterday how he saw a fellow Argentine, whom he named as a Corporal Carrizo, disarmed then shot in the head by British paratroopers on Mount Longdon on 11 June 1982.

'I was behind a ridge and from there I could see Corporal Carrizo . . . two English soldiers took him prisoner. I could see the three of them clearly. They made signs telling him to take off his webbing and hand over his weapons. Then they ordered him to take off his anorak. He was left standing in his vest. The English soldiers began talking to each other. Suddenly, they stared at him and one of them passed his hand across his throat, as if to say they were going to kill him. One of the soldiers fired four shots into his head.'

Mr Mambrin said Mr Carrizo, miraculously, had survived after being treated by British medics.

Angel Gutierrez, who fought in the Falklands and is now vice- president of the veterans' association, said last week that he believed Mr Bramley's allegations to be true. 'British troops gunned down a number of Argentians who had been wounded,' he said.