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UK appeals court rejects call for investigation into 1948 Malaysia killings

The UK Court of Appeal [official website] on Wednesday rejected a bid for an inquiry into the shooting of 24 Malaysian rubber plantation workers at Batang Kali [BBC backgrounder] on December 12, 1948. The petition brought by the families of the deceased allege [BBC report] that British troops "massacred" the workers during the campaign against communist rebels known as the Malayan Emergency [RAND backgrounder]. The bid before the Appeals Court follows a High Court [official website] ruling [text, PDF] in 2012, which found that there was no dispute that 24 people were killed at Batang Kali by British Troops but, that it would "be very difficult at this point in time to establish definitively whether the men were shot trying to escape or whether these were deliberate executions." Two inquiries into the killings have already taken place, once in 1948 shortly following the event and again in 1970. The lawyer for the appellants has stated [WP report] that the case will be brought to Britain's Supreme Court.

In September 2012 the High Court struck down [JURIST report] a petition calling for an independent investigation into the incident. The British government had explained the previous November that they would not be conducting an investigation into the shootings, but the families of the Malaysian plantation workers maintained that there was sufficient evidence to launch an independent inquiry. The lawyers representing the victims' families vowed to appeal the High Court ruling, claiming that statements made by British soldiers prove that the killings were unlawful.

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