Thousands of pounds have reportedly been paid to the family of three Afghan farmers believed to have been gunned down in their home by SAS soldiers, though the Ministry of Defence is denying it is compensation for wrongdoing.
Documents viewed by the Sunday Times show £3,634 was paid to the men’s mother, Bebe Hazrata, 16 days after the 2012 incident happened. The case was then marked “settled.”
In July, Ms Hazrata described what happened the night her sons were killed. She told the newspaper she watched as Nor Mohammad, 33, Din Mohammad, 30, and Sher Mohammed, 27 were shot dead in the courtyard of their home in Gereshk district, Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Before it happened, she said they were cooperating with the soldiers and holding their hands in the air.
“As they came out from the rooms they told them to hold up their hands,” she told the newspaper. “The soldiers were aggressive and shouting but my sons didn’t say a word to them. Then they opened fire and killed them.
“They arrived into the compound and opened fire again on the dead bodies and after that they started a search operation into the rooms. They couldn’t find any weapons. Any ammunition. Nothing at all. After that they left. They are civilians. Farmers. They have no links with the Taliban.”
When she went to the British Army base the next day, Ms Hazrata said officers claimed to have no knowledge of the deaths.
A Ministry of Defence source told the Sunday Times the payment wasn’t compensation, instead referring to it as an “assistance payment”, which did not constitute an admission of liability.
Chris Green, a former British Army captain who was responsible for meeting with villagers after the attack in an attempt to cool tensions, said the payment constitutes “significant evidence” of wrongdoing.
“The local population turned against us for killing three innocent farmers,” he recalled in a message to the Sunday Times.
“As far as we were concerned we had absolutely no intelligence to suggest or corroborate that they were bad guys who needed to be killed.”
“[The elders] were very clear that their position was that it was an execution. I personally believe that they were probably right.”
Mr Green said when he attempted to investigate what happened himself, special forces told him to desist.
“I was told to stop pursuing lines of inquiry,” he said. “I was basically told I was not going to get the information. I was going to have to accept their explanation that it was too top secret to share with me.”
The mission is currently being investigated by Royal Military Police (RMP) officers under Operation Northmoor, which looks at allegations of misconduct by British forces in Afghanistan.
In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said: “Our armed forces served with great courage and professionalism and we proudly hold them to the highest standards. The RMP’s Northmoor investigation has discontinued the vast majority of the allegations made and only a small number of ongoing investigations remain. It would be inappropriate to comment further on any ongoing lines of inquiry.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies