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British government refuses to comment on investigation into KMS war crimes in Sri Lanka

Responding to independent MP Claudia Webbe’s question on the Home Office’s investigation of war crimes committed by the Keenie Meenie Services (KMS) in Sri Lanka, Kit Malthouse, Minister of State in the Home Office and Ministry of Justice, refused to comment.

“It would not be appropriate to comment on ongoing investigations” he claimed.

The mercenary firm is currently the subject of a full war crimes investigation by the Metropolitan Police over reports that it assisted the Sri Lankan military in committing crimes against Tamils during the 1980s. The firm also helped set up Sri Lanka’s Special Task Force (STF), a paramilitary police unit that is accused of committing mass atrocities over the course of the armed conflict and is increasingly involved in harassing and surveilling the civilian population across the North-East since the end of the conflict.

Since the investigation the British government has attempted to distance itself from the firm. Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Vicky Ford, told parliament:

“The UK Government was not party to the agreement between the Sri Lankan Government and Keenie Meenie Services (KMS) in the 1980s”. 

Speaking to investigative journalist, Phil Miller, Lt Col Richard Holworthy, Britain’s former defense attaché to Sri Lanka, said that the UK was aware of KMS activities - including tactics such as helicopter bombing Tamil civilians using grenades placed inside wine glasses.

“They’d fly over and drop the grenade with the wine glass, and of course when it hit the ground the glass broke, the grenade exploded,” he said. 

Read the full parliamentary exchange here. 

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