Statement urged over Falklands 'war crimes'

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The Independent Online
THE GOVERNMENT was yesterday urged to make a statement on allegations that British troops killed enemy prisoners in the Falklands in defiance of the international conventions of war.

The call came in a letter from Tam Dalyell, the Labour MP and a fierce critic of the Government during the Falklands war, to Malcolm Rifkind, Secretary of State for Defence.

The allegations were cited in an Independent on Sunday report yesterday on a book, Excursion to Hell, written by former Lance Corporal Vincent Bramley, an NCO who served with the 3rd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment.

One incident involved the alleged shooting of Argentinian prisoners after the battle for Mount Longdon waged by 3 Para. In the other, the alleged victims were three suspected US mercenaries: the order was said to have come from above. One reason proffered was the desire not to embarrass President Reagan.

Some of the details were excised from the final published version of the book. However, the author makes it clear that he believes the war was justified and the two incidents occupy only a tiny part of the book's narrative.

The Ministry of Defence said yesterday it was considering its response to the allegations, which were being taken 'very seriously'. It is expected to order an inquiry.

Mr Dalyell said it was never part of his case to 'denigrate the heroism of British forces'. But in his letter to Mr Rifkind, he said: 'Precisely because Mr Bramley's forthcoming book is not a knocking book, I believe you ought to make a statement.'