LONDON (Reuters) - A public inquiry into allegations that members of British special forces carried out dozens of extra-judicial killings during night raids in Afghanistan gets underway in London on Wednesday.
Britain's defence ministry ordered the inquiry after a BBC TV documentary last year reported that soldiers from the elite Special Air Service (SAS) had killed 54 people in suspicious circumstances.
It also came after two families, who accuse the SAS of killing their relatives in 2011 and 2012, began legal action to demand judicial reviews of their cases.
The inquiry, led by senior judge Charles Haddon-Cave, will examine whether there was unlawful activity by British military personnel between mid-2010 and mid-2013 during 'deliberate detention operations', and whether there is credible information of extra-judicial killings.
It will also look at whether investigations by the Royal Military were properly conducted and if any unlawful killings were covered up.
"The UK's armed forces rightly hold themselves to the highest possible operational standards," junior defence minister Andrew Murrison told parliament when he announced the inquiry in December.
"Operations must be conducted within the clear boundaries of the law and credible allegations against our forces must always be investigated thoroughly."
British military police have previously conducted several inquiries into allegations of misconduct by forces in Afghanistan, including those made against the SAS, but the Ministry of Defence has said that none found enough evidence for prosecutions.
(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by William James)