Disgraced soldiers who admitted abusing Afghan civilians in warzone are allowed to stay anonymous because of fears over Lee Rigby murder
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.
The soldiers admitted the offences at court and their names have not been released (file picture)
Judge 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’.
Soldier Y pleaded guilty to racially abusing an Afghan man during a tour of the country.
The soldier who is a serving non-commissioned officer admitted being involved in having an Afghan man photographed with a sign which read ‘Silly P*ki’.
He has now been reduced to the ranks.
Soldier X, who is now 22, pleaded guilty to conduct to the prejudice of good order and service discipline at the start of a court martial.
The offence took place while he was on tour in Afghanistan in December 2011.
Soldier X was seen by a female member of the Royal Military Police, a Lance Corporal Mawson, being filmed near a checkpoint while telling a young Afghan boy to touch his privates and pulling on his hand.
Video footage recovered by his checkpoint commander of the incident was shown today to the court.
It showed the former serviceman with a child who appeared to be around five years old, surrounded by other soldiers and laughing as he repeated ‘touch my special place’ several times.
At court today, Soldier X admitted insulting another Afghan child between October 16, 2011 and January 6, 2012 before being ordered to pay the £1,000 fine.
In a second film, which he recorded himself, Soldier X can be heard making comments about other soldiers in which he claims they are paedophiles.
Later in the footage an Afghan boy of around 10 comes up to him, smiling and offering to shake his hand.
Soldier X was heard insulting the boy, telling him to ‘f*** off’ and calling him a ‘f****** c***’ before the child turns back in surprise.
Soldier X was cleared of disgraceful conduct of an indecent kind and of forcing an Afghan girl to touch him on a separate occasion.
The Judge Advocate said he accepted there was no sexual motive behind Soldier X’s behaviour when he held a child of around five on his knee and told him to touch his privates in December 2011.
‘The child did not touch your private parts and we have seen that the child in question was not aware of what you did – fortunately neither were the adults in the local population,’ he said.
The Judge Advocate added that the insulting language Soldier X used between October 16 2011 and January 6 2012 towards a second, older Afghan child had ‘clearly caused offence’ and had been ‘unacceptable’.
‘It was an ill-judged attempt at humour but there is no justification for your behaviour,’ he added.
Peter Glenser, for the defence, said the films were made in imitation of comic movie The Hangover, but admitted his client had an ‘immature sense of humour’.
‘You may think that Ricky Gervais does not have much to worry about in terms of competition from Soldier X,’ Mr Glenser said.
The former soldier, who was wearing a grey suit and white shirt in court, has since moved into the building trade.
Soldier Y, now 23, admitted being involved in having an Afghan man photographed with a sign which read ‘Silly P*ki’.
The court was shown a picture of him posing with an Afghan man holding the racist sign.
Lt Col England said: ‘Soldier Y’s conduct was racist, it was insulting, it was likely to cause harassment or distress to the local male or other local males who might see it.’
Izzy Hogg, for the defence, said in mitigation that her client was not racist and had not been brought up in such a way.
‘His godfather is black and his best friend is Filipino,’ she said.
‘He accepts that it shouldn’t have happened and that he stepped over the line.’
The serviceman pleaded guilty to a racially aggravated offence likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress under the Crime and Disorder Act.
He was initially charged with conduct to the prejudice of good order and service discipline but prosecutor Lt Col Jane England accepted his guilty plea to the separate offence.
Addressing Soldier Y, who was serving as Lance Bombardier at the time of the offence he committed, the Judge Advocate said that his racist behaviour was ‘highly offensive and particularly stupid’.
He said: ‘You have been trained to act with decorum and you singularly failed to do that.
‘It was your role to stop what was happening, not to join in, and you did not do that.’
The patrol commander of the two soldiers, referred to as Soldier Z, was cleared