The Kiwi lawyers representing Afghan villagers at the centre of claims New Zealand SAS troops killed civilians in 2010 have filed proceedings against the Government in the Wellington High Court.
Top lawyers Deborah Manning, Rodney Harrison QC and Richard McLeod announced in March they were representing villagers killed or injured during the SAS-led raid and had spoken with their families. They also said they would be asking the Attorney General and Government for a full and independent inquiry into the event.
The lawyers believe the book and say Defence Force denials have misled the public. The claim no civilians were killed is a “cover up”, they say.
They are seeking a judicial review of the government’s referral of the matter to the Chief of Defence and his declining of an independent inquiry of the matter, claiming the government’s decision to refer the matter was wrong and the Chief of Defence stance on the inquiry was fundamentally flawed.
Lawyers acting for the Afghan villagers in the area the SAS allegedly targeted in Operation Burnham are taking the Government to court over its refusal to hold an independent inquiry.
Rodney Harrison, QC, said they wanted a judicial review of the “decision by the Government to decline to hold an independent inquiry into the Operation Burnham events and subsequent cover-up”.
They also want a review of the Government’s decision to refer calls for an inquiry to the Chief of the Defence Force “who had already taken a position in relation to the overall issue, and was biased”.
“What we’re seeking is a decision from the court that the refusal of the inquiry was wrong and should be revisited.”
Prime Minister Bill English said the timing of the proceedings was suspicious.
“I haven’t seen the details, but I’m not surprised that something like this may come up pre-election,” he told Newshub.
“Look, I’m sure there’s an element of people trying to put on some political pressure… You always expect something from Mr Hager in the run-up to the election.”
What vile spin that is from English.
— Hit & Run (@hitandrunnz) August 18, 2017