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British ‘mercenaries’ accused of war crimes in Sri Lankan Civil War

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
British mercenaries were an important but hidden feature of the early phase of the Sri Lankan Civil War

British “mercenaries” who fought in the Sri Lankan Civil War are currently under investigation for suspected was crimes by the Metropolitan Police.

The alleged crimes took place in the 1980s, during the early phase of the Sri Lankan War which pitted government forces against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The allegations center on the now disbanded private security company, Keenie Meenie Services (KMS), which employed former British soldiers to fight in foreign wars.

The KMS has been accused of training an elite unit of the Sri Lankan police called the Special Task Force (STF), which has been implicated in many human rights abuses against the Tamil minority in the north and east of the island nation.

The abuses include the extrajudicial killings of Tamil civilians – especially those suspected of supporting the LTTE - during the long-running Civil War which ended with a decisive government victory in May 2009.

Most of the evidence relating to KMS’s involvement in Sri Lanka has been gathered from declassified British government documents and freedom of information requests submitted by journalist Phil Miller.

Miller’s book, Keenie Meenie: The British Mercenaries Who Got Away With War Crimes, was published in January 2020.

The security company KMS was originally founded by David Walker, a former Special Air Service (SAS) officer, in 1975.

KMS mostly recruited former British soldiers from the Special Forces community, notably the SAS and its sister organization the Special Boat Service (SBS).

KMS was disbanded in the early 1990s, but the 78-year-old Walker is one of the directors of a successor company called Saladin Security, which is based in Kensington (central London).

For his part, Walker strenuously denies any KMS complicity in Sri Lankan war crimes or human rights abuses.

In a statement, Walker’s representative said: "The allegations that David Walker or staff of KMS Limited were complicit in war crimes in Sri Lanka in the mid-1980s is categorically denied”.

"[Saladin Security] is an entirely separate company from KMS and had no involvement in Sri Lanka. Mr Walker was neither a shareholder or director of KMS”, the statement added.



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