Hit and Run: New details could force Afghan inquiry, victims' lawyer claims

Information of "great significance" is about to be released., Afghan village lawyers say after Hit and Run
Three year old Fatima, who Hit & Run claims was killed in an SAS led rain on Khak Khuday Dad village (Jon Stephenson)

Lawyers acting for Afghan families impacted by "military operations conducted against their villages", including by the New Zealand Defence Force, say they've received information that is directly relevant to their request for an inquiry. 

In a letter to Prime Minister Bill English and Attorney-General Chris Finlayson on Tuesday, the New Zealand lawyers representing them say they expect to provide the information "by or before tomorrow [Wednesday] morning".

"In the meantime, we request that no decision be made regarding an inquiry without our clients being first afforded the opportunity to provide potentially significant information to the Government... which would be directly relevant to the need for an inquiry," the letter by Richard McLeod reads.

Mr McLeod, from McLeod & Associates, on Tuesday requested a full and independent inquiry into allegations of breaches of domestic and international law made in Hit & Run by investigative journalists Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson.

The letter says the information they hold "relates to the various claims publicised by the New Zealand Defence Force in a media release" and in a news conference held by Chief of Defence Lieutenant-General Tim Keating on Monday.

The NZDF claims its personnel have never operated in the villages of Naik and Khak Khuday Day, saying Operation Burnham was conducted in Tirgiran, two kilometres further south.

Mr McLeod says his clients are "innocent victims of military operations conducted against their villages by international forces, including the NZDF, during the early hours of 22 August 2010, and also during a subsequent raid carried out on Naik village some weeks later".

He understands ministers may be considering making a decision on Tuesday on whether to commission an inquiry.

He says an inquiry could "avoid irreparable damage" to New Zealand's international reputation.