June 4, 2013
Two disgraced soldiers who abused Afghan civilians will be allowed to stay anonymous because of fears they could become victims of a ‘lone wolf’ attack like soldier Lee Rigby.
A 22-year-old ex-private was fined £1,000 after admitting pulling a young boy’s hand towards his genitals and saying ‘Touch my special place’.
His 23-year-old comrade, a serving non-commissioned officer, was demoted in rank after pleading guilty to racially insulting a local man by photographing him holding a sign reading ‘Silly Paki’.
But controversially the judge at the court martial today ruled the shamed troops’ names should be shrouded in secrecy following the murder of soldier Lee Rigby.
Two Islamic extremists have been charged with allegedly hacking Drummer Rigby, 25, to death with cleavers and knives outside Woolwich barracks in south east London two weeks ago.
udge Advocate Alan Large, sitting at the hearing in Sennelager, Germany, said the guilty soldiers and their families could be at risk of attack from ‘lone wolf’ terrorists if their anonymity was lifted.
He said: ‘In the light of recent events in London and the threat posed by lone wolves it seems to me that it would be wrong to lift the restrictions.
‘I accept that it would usually be wrong to make such an order and this should not be seen as an attempt by the military to hide behind the law.
‘It was made in response to very specific circumstances and on specific grounds.’
The servicemen were attached to the 1st Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment which was fighting the Taliban in the Nahr-e Saraj area of Helmand when the offences took place in December 2011.
The former private, known as Soldier X, pleaded guilty to two charges of misconduct.
In once incident he was filmed near a checkpoint with a child aged around five sitting on his knee.
Film footage showed him laughing, pulling the boy’s hand and telling him to touch his crotch.
He also pleaded guilty to insulting an Afghan boy aged around ten who offered to shake his hand, telling him to ‘f*** off’ and calling him a ‘f****** c***’.
He was cleared of disgraceful conduct of an indecent kind and allegedly forcing an Afghan girl to touch him intimately on another occasion.
Judge Advocate Large accepted there was no sexual motive behind Soldier X’s behaviour towards the young boys but said it was ‘gratuitously unpleasant’ and ‘totally unacceptable’.