Page last updated at 08:21 GMT, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 09:21 UK

UK 'rejects' Malaya deaths appeal

By Robin Brant
BBC News, Kuala Lumpur

Map showing Malaysia

The UK government has rejected appeals for a public enquiry into the killings by UK soldiers in its colony of Malaya, lawyers for a witness told the BBC.

The killing of 24 unarmed men occurred in a village 61 years ago.

Lawyers acting for the last surviving adult witness to the attack in Batang Kali had lodged an appeal with the UK's foreign office and defence ministry.

Britain was fighting an insurrection in its then-colony of Malaya, part of what is now Malaysia.

After months of deliberation, the appeal has been turned down, the witnesses's lawyers said.

The 24 male villagers were killed in December 1948 by members of a battalion of the Scots Guards after they raided a village looking for communist insurgents.

There has never been an independent investigation into the events - villagers claimed the men were innocent and wrongly targeted.

An army enquiry in the immediate aftermath of the deaths reportedly cleared the soldiers of any wrongdoing.

This is the latest effort to force the British government to set up a public enquiry. There were campaigns in 1970 and the mid-1990s.

The Batang Kali killings came at the beginning of a 12-year war between Malayan and British forces and a communist insurgency.

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