We covered this Nepalese soldier of the Queen’s plight back in August, and noted that he returned to duty in July, after initial media reports that he beheaded a prisoner were proven false.
Earlier news reports had the British commander of troops in Afghanistan, Richard Kemp, condemning the Gurkha private, and anonymous British staff officers calling him a war criminal.
[I]nvestigation showed that the headless Talib was a combat casualty, not a desecrated corpse…
So, for whatever reason, the attempt to throw the book at this young soldier got cut off at the… knees. The amazing, Lord Love a Duck aspect of the whole thing is that the ruperts attempted this in the first place. What were they thinking?
Turns out, he did whack the guy’s head off (the Talib in question already having shuffled off this mortal coil). But he had a good reason, which was not reported at the time. Now comes the Daily Mail with more detail:
The private, from 1st Battalion, Royal Gurkha Rifles, was involved in a fierce firefight with insurgents in the Babaji area of central Helmand Province when the incident took place earlier last July.
The Nepalese soldier, who is in his early 20s, apparently made the decision to remove the head in a misunderstanding over the need for DNA evidence of the kill.
His unit had been told that they were seeking a ‘high value target,’ a Taliban commander, and that they must prove they had killed the right man.
The Gurkhas had intended to remove the Taliban leader’s body from the battlefield for identification purposes.
However, Army sources revealed at the time that he told investigators he had unsheathed his kukri – the symbolic weapon of the Gurkhas – after running out of ammunition.
‘Thankfully he has been returned to normal duties having had a question mark hanging over his future for some time,’ a military source told The Sun.
‘This particular Gurkha is good soldier and has a good record.’
The deceased, now headless, Talib turned out not to be the HVT the Gurkhas were hunting — that time, anyway. The final disposition of the Talib’s head is unknown.
Anyone for buzkashi?