According to The Times, it has been reported that special forces commanders in the UK destroyed computer data in an attempt to conceal any potential evidence related to the killing of unarmed Afghan civilians.
There are allegations that, before a visit from the Royal Military Police to the special forces headquarters in London for a war crimes investigation, the authorities deleted the files even though they were instructed to keep the information intact.
An investigation was initiated following reports from The Sunday Times and BBC, which indicated that Special Air Service units may have been involved in the killing of unarmed civilians in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2013.
There is new evidence suggesting that rogue units may have been responsible for up to 80 unlawful killings during separate six-month tours in the country.
Saifullah Yar, an Afghan citizen, has filed a legal case against the Ministry of Defense. He alleges that in 2011, four members of his family were tragically killed in their own home. According to Yar, they were handcuffed and blindfolded before being shot by the SAS.
The Royal Military Police investigated more than 50 killings as part of Operation Northmoor, which was a probe into alleged war crimes. However, the investigation concluded in 2017 without any prosecutions.
However, according to Leigh Day, the lawyers representing Yar, they believe that the decision to close the investigation was just one aspect of a larger cover-up involving multiple layers. They claim that this cover-up started with SAS units providing false combat reports and planting weapons on civilians, leading to unlawful killings.
According to a legal submission by Leigh Day to a new inquiry into the killings, the staff at the UK headquarters of SAS activities in Afghanistan deleted an unknown amount of data from a server just before Operation Northmoor investigators arrived to inspect it, going against the order to preserve the computer data.
The preliminary hearings for the Independent Inquiry Relating to Afghanistan are scheduled to take place on Wednesday and Thursday.
The inquiry is going to look into how often unlawful killings happened in Afghanistan by the SAS, and also how the Royal Military Police investigated these incidents afterwards.
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) has submitted a request to permit military witnesses to give their testimony in private and also to keep certain evidence confidential.
A spokesperson from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) stated that it would not be suitable for the MoD to provide comments on cases that fall under the jurisdiction of the statutory inquiry. The responsibility of deciding which allegations are investigated lies with the statutory inquiry team, led by Lord Justice Haddon-Cave.