29 April, 2009

Malaysia - 1948 massacre 'under review'

Evidence about a 1948 massacre of unarmed Malaysian villagers by British troops is to be reviewed by the UK government, the BBC understands.

Government lawyers have written to survivors asking for evidence and testimony about the killing of 24 villagers in Batang Kali.

The Scots Guards raid, near the capital Kuala Lumpur, was meant to target communist insurgents.

Most of the evidence to be examined is testimony from villagers and soldiers who witnessed the killings.

A handful of survivors are seeking a judicial review, and also pursuing a court bid for compensation and an apology.

In January, the Foreign Office rejected demands for an inquiry put forward in a petition, citing a lack of new evidence.

At the time, a spokesman said: "The matters have been considered previously by investigations into the Batang Kali massacre in 1949 and 1970 and those investigations found insufficient evidence to pursue prosecution."

There has never been a full inquiry into the massacre.

The incident occurred on 12 December 1948, six months into a 12-year campaign to crush the largely ethnic Chinese communists who were trying to drive out British colonialists.

Official accounts describe villagers being killed as they escaped into the jungle, having been warned they would be shot if they tried to flee.

However, survivors recall victims being led out of their homes and shot in the back.

The massacre remained largely forgotten until the People newspaper in 1970 ran an account of the killings, featuring sworn affidavits by several soldiers who admitted the villagers were shot in cold blood.

(Source: Malaysia massacre 'under review' )

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