Janjaweed militia chief Mussa Hilal speaks during an interview with AFP in Khartoum on October 26,2009.

An African war criminal who joined in the slaughter of civilians has been allowed to stay in Britain under human rights law - because he admitted his crimes in a BBC interview.

The man was a fighter in the Janjaweed militia which killed an estimated 300 000 people during the war in Darfur, but he came to Britain after hearing it was “a good place to claim asylum”.

An immigration tribunal found he was guilty of crimes against humanity after he gave media interviews in which he described joining in the burning and looting of 30 villages and shooting countless victims.

But a judge has ruled that the 27-year-old must be allowed to stay in Britain because his life could be at risk if he returned to his home country.

She said that as a result of the media interviews he gave voluntarily in this country in which he criticised his former commanders and revealed embarrassing political information about the conflict, they might try to kill or hurt him if he was sent home.

In interviews with BBC Newsnight and The Times his identity remained secret and his face was hidden in pictures and footage. But the judge ruled that word had got around the Sudanese community in this country about who man was and as a result his life was at risk.

It follows other cases where individuals accused of committing horrendous violence have been granted refuge in Britain.

They include a Serbian war crime suspect and a former henchman of Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe.

This latest case involves a former goat shepherd who joined the Janjaweed militia in 2003. During the conflict in Sudan, Janjaweed forces attacked dozens of non-Arab tribes in a burning and killing spree now regarded as ethnic cleansing.

After more than two years as a paid fighter he deserted and came to the UK because he was told it was ‘a good place to claim asylum’.

The man, who is not being named by the Mail, arrived in 2006 and claimed asylum but his case was not decided by officials until last year. In 2008 he gave interviews to The Times and Newsnight. In one, he said: “You will not distinguish between children, the elderly or women. You just shoot and kill everybody.”

He also admitted seeing his fellow soldiers committing rape, but denied taking part.

He told the Times he lost count of the number of people he shot.

On BBC’s Newsnight he described “innocent people running out and being killed including children”.

Immigration officials, pointing to the interviews he gave, ruled that he was exempt from refugee status. The Geneva Convention allows war criminals to be refused asylum.

Officials said he could return to Sudan and live in another part of the country safely because his identity was not known. But the man appealed and in October last year an immigration judge granted him asylum and ruled his human rights under Articles 2 and 3 of the Human Rights Act - the right to life and protection against torture - would be infringed if he returned.

Judge CJ Lloyd said she thought it was “fairer” to examine the evidence he gave to the tribunal in person in which he changed his story entirely and claimed he had “never killed anyone in his life but was careful to shoot in the air”.

She also concluded he would be at risk from the Sudanese Government if returned because his name would have leaked out. The Home Office appealed and in an Upper Tribunal ruling published last week Judge Hanson ruled the man did join in attacks against civilians and had ‘criminal responsibility”.

He overturned the decision to grant asylum on the grounds the man was a war criminal.

But he upheld the human rights ruling which found the man was at risk if returned to Sudan - as a result of the interviews he gave.

The war criminal will now be allowed to remain in this country indefinitely. He cannot claim benefits, work or study and the only controls that can be placed on him is a reporting requirement.

Tory MP Dominic Raab said: “Britain should be a safe haven for those fleeing torture and persecution, not a soft touch for those carrying it out.” - Daily Mail