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A former SAS hardman-turned-mercenary has relived the horror of seeing "brains blown out" and ordering firing squads to kill his own men after a bloody massacre.
Peter McAleese, 78, said he was shocked to find 14 European mercenaries "just lying there mowed down" in the street while investigating the mass slaughter during the Angolan Civil War in Africa.
Months after joining the National Liberation Front of Angola in 1976, the Scot was charged with arresting fellow British mercenary Costas Georgiou – better known as the notorious Colonel Callan – who had organised the slaughter.
Once he realised Callan was not at his base at Maquela do Zombo in northern Angola, he took a group of men to the massacre site close by to investigate – and "couldn't believe" what he saw.
"I remember one guy was hanging over a bush and his brains were blown out from the back," he told YouTube channel Anything Goes with James English.
"He'd been shot in the back of the head.
"It made a terrible impression on me. I couldn't believe soldiers could do that to their fellow soldiers."
Soon after, he was told Callan had been captured – along with the man who had carried out Callan's merciless order, Sammy Copeland.
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"Sammy Copeland had a reputation of being a good soldier, but I think he'd fallen under the spell of Callan," McAleese said.
"And he was involved in this massacre."
Following discussions with fellow mercenaries, he was forced to hold a military-style court of inquiry.
"Having been in a few of those things in the army – against me – I had a good idea what to do," he said.
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He added: "Nobody held anything back. They were right into what Sammy Copeland done."
Having been sentenced to death by firing squad, the panicked Copeland made a desperate attempt to escape.
"At this stage, Sammy just lost it and he bolted for it," McAleese said.
"One of the firing squad got him as he ran away and brought him down," he added.
"And it was hurtful in that Sammy was a good man who just fell under the influence of someone else."
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Asked whether he had to kill them, he replied: "Yeah."
Callan and Copeland had originally been part of the same task force as McAleese, but the situation took a drastic turn when they were split up and deployed in different parts of the country.
On his return to base in San Antonio de Zaire in the south of the country, having executed Callan, McAleese discovered his former colleague had planned to kill him.
"One of the guys comes up to me and says 'it's better you're down here,'" he revealed. "And I said 'why?' He said 'because Callan was talking about killing you'."
He went on: "I said 'why would he want to kill me?' and I was told 'because he saw you as competition'.
"I just accepted it and got on with what I was doing."
- British Army
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