An SAS veteran has defended the “mercy killing” of mortally wounded Iraqi soldiers after it was reported that he faces a murder probe triggered by confessions made in a book.
Sergeant Colin Maclachlan said his motive was “entirely humane” when he shot dead “two or three” fatally injured enemy combatants during the 2003 invasion.
The 42-year-old, who appeared in Channel 4 programme SAS: Who Dares Wins, said the injured soldiers were screaming in agony and “pleading for us to do it”.
Killing mortally wounded enemy soldiers on the battlefield to end their suffering out of mercy is illegal under UK military law and against standards laid down by the Geneva Conventions.
However, Maclachlan, from Edinburgh, told the Mail on Sunday that the case showed the “harsh reality of combat” with ordinary servicemen who are put in positions of “extraordinary” decision-making.
He said: “Our motives were entirely humane. I’ll happily go to court, I’ll happily go to jail, if you think I’ve done wrong. But people should put themselves in my position first. Walk around in my boots, then judge me.”
The attack on three Iraqi army vehicles near the Syrian border in March 2003 features in a new book, SAS Who Dares Wins: Leadership Secrets From The Special Forces, to which Maclachlan has contributed a chapter entitled “Handling The Dirty Work”.
After firing rockets at the enemy units, the SAS squad found two Iraqi soldiers who had been disembowelled and another who had lost three of his limbs, but they were still alive.
“Special Forces operatives quickly put them out of their misery, rather than leaving them to die slowly and in agony,” he said in the book, adding later: “I didn’t enjoy killing those soldiers at the checkpoint but I had to put them out of their misery. I didn’t want them to suffer any more.”
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has procedures for considering such manuscripts submitted for publication and reportedly launched a probe into possible crimes after receiving an advanced copy.
According to the Mail on Sunday, Maclachlan was informed of an investigation by military police via email from MoD officials last week.
An MoD spokeswoman said they were unable to comment on the reported inquiry at this time.
They added: “Our Armed Forces will continue to be held to the very highest standards. Credible allegations of criminal behaviour will always be investigated properly.”