A senior British commander has described the behaviour of two British servicemen, disrespectfully posing next to the dead body of an Afghan, as an “understandable joy.”
On Saturday, former head of British forces in Afghanistan Colonel Richard Kemp defended the soldiers’ behavior, saying, “What we see here is a sense of elation that they are still alive at the end of it [battle] and an understandable joy at seeing that their enemy, who were trying to kill them a short time before, are no longer alive.”
Leaked images taken from the video website LiveLeak on Friday showed the two members of Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) posing next to the bloodied corpse of an Afghan man after an attack on Camp Bastion in 2012.
In the first image, a British soldier with a cigarette in his mouth is kneeling next to the body and giving a thumbs-up sign of triumph.
The second image appeared to show another soldier smiling and cradling his rifle in one arm while giving the thumbs up to the camera as he kneels next to the head of the dead body.
The UK-based human rights group Amnesty International has described the pictures as “appalling.”
“They violate international humanitarian law standards, including common article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit the disrespectful and degrading treatment of the bodies of dead combatants,” said director of Law and Policy at Amnesty Joanne Mariner.
She also urged UK authorities to launch a thorough and impartial investigation into the incident.