No inquiry into UK 'massacre' of Malaysians

2012-09-04 17:18
This picture taken in September 2008 shows Tham Yong, who at the time was the sole surviving eyewitness to the killing of the 24 villagers by British troops in 1948. (AFP, File)

This picture taken in September 2008 shows Tham Yong, who at the time was the sole surviving eyewitness to the killing of the 24 villagers by British troops in 1948. (AFP, File)

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London - Relatives of 24 Malaysian rubber plantation workers killed by British troops in 1948 on Tuesday lost their High Court battle for a full inquiry by the British government.

Britain said last November it would not hold a formal probe into the Batang Kali killings in British-controlled Malaya, but the families' lawyers claim there is enough evidence to justify an independent inquiry.

British soldiers surrounded the Sungai Rimoh rubber estate in Batang Kali on 12 December 1948, shot the 24 workers and set the village on fire, London's High Court heard.

The incident, which has been referred to as "Britain's My Lai" after the infamous Vietnam War massacre, happened during the so-called Malayan Emergency, when British troops conducted military operations against communist insurgents.

The court heard that Britain's 1964-1970 Labour government had launched a police investigation into the deaths, but the incoming Conservative administration dropped it in 1970, claiming a lack of evidence.

The current British government argued that the decision not to hold an inquiry was reached lawfully.

Appeal

"There are no grounds for disturbing their conclusion," Judge John Thomas said on Tuesday.

But lawyers for the victims' families claim that statements given by soldiers to the original investigation showed they admitted unlawful killing.

"We are appealing," said John Halford, a solicitor representing the families. "As long as the injustice remains, the families will be pursuing legal action."

A relative of one of the victims of the killings said he was disappointed by the judge's decision.

"I am disappointed with the finding that no inquiry is required," said Chong Koon Ying - whose father Chong Voon was killed - in a statement released by lawyers.

"The truth has not been fully revealed."

The families hope an investigation could lead to an apology and reparations.

Read more on:    uk  |  malaysia
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