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Saturday, 11 August 2012
Britain faces legal challenge over Afghan 'kill list'
An Afghan man who lost five relatives in a US air strike is taking legal action to force Britain to reveal its role in supplying information for a US military "kill list", his lawyers said Friday.
Habib Rahman, who lost two brothers, two uncles and his father-in-law in the attack on September 2, 2010, has begun proceedings against Britain's Ministry of Defence and Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).
Rahman is demanding to know the extent of Britain's involvement in what his lawyers say is a list of people designated as targets by military forces in Afghanistan, including whether it is legal.
"Our client's case suggests that the establishment and maintenance of the 'killing list' is not in line with the UK's duties under international humanitarian law," said Rosa Curling, a solicitor with Leigh Day and Co.
The firm acknowledged that it did not know whether information provided by Britain contributed to the attack which killed Rahman's relatives, but said it was important to have full disclosure.
"It is important that the MoD and britainOCA provide us with the reassurances sought, to make sure that others do not suffer the tragic loss of life as experienced by Mr Rahman," Curling said.
The Guardian newspaper said the "kill list" was first mentioned in a report to the US Senate's committee on foreign relations in 2009.
It said a task force targeting drug traffickers, insurgents and corrupt officials was being set up at Kandahar air field in southern Afghanistan, linking the US and British military, the US Drug Enforcement Agency, SOCA, and other law enforcement agencies.
Rahman, who is from Kabul, says the attack happened while his relatives were helping his cousin Abdul Wahab Khorasani, a former parliamentary candidate, as he campaigned in the Takhar province of northern Afghanistan.
A total of 10 civilians were killed and several more injured.
His lawyers said the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the US-led NATO force in Afghanistan, described the attack at the time as "a precision air strike" which killed or injured up to 12 insurgents including a Taliban commander.
Rahman's lawyers say there is evidence it was an incidence of mistaken targeting.
Britain's Ministry of Defence said it could not discuss the case in detail for operational security reasons but insisted that British forces worked "strictly within the bounds of international law".
SOCA said it "does not discuss intelligence" but insisted its activity overseas "was conducted in line with other UK government departments, which comply with the principles of international humanitarian law and human rights."