Australian Army puts 13 soldiers on notice over Afghanistan war crimes report
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has sent notices to 13 special forces soldiers who face likely dismissal following the damning report that exposed that Australian forces had unlawfully killed 39 Afghan civilians.
An independent report published last week said there was evidence that 39 unarmed Afghan prisoners and civilians were killed by 19 Australian soldiers.
Australia’s prime minister and top military commander have apologized. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison contacted the Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, to express “his deepest sorrow over the misconduct by some Australian troops” and assure them that inquiry recommendations would be carried out.
Afghanistan has called the report “unforgivable” and called for justice to be served to the victims.
Amnesty International Australia said “the full impact upon the families and communities of these 39 murders must be fully explored and appropriate support provided to those families and communities”.
Report key findings
Major General Paul Brereton’s chilling investigation found that a small group within the elite Special Air Services and commandos regiments killed Afghan civilians and later planted evidence on their bodies to cover up their crimes. During the four-year investigation, his team reviewed 20,000 documents and 25,000 images and interviewed 423 witnesses.
Brereton describes the special forces’ actions as “disgraceful and a profound betrayal” of the Australian Defence Force.
The report found:
- There was “credible information” that 39 Afghans were allegedly murdered by Australian special forces in 23 incidents.
- None of the killings took place in the heat of battle, and all occurred in circumstances which, if accepted by a jury, would constitute the war crime of murder.
- None of the alleged victims were combatants.
- A total of 25 perpetrators have been identified either as principals or accessories. Some are still serving in the ADF.
- The report revealed an alleged practice known as “blooding” in which young special forces soldiers were told to get their first kill by shooting prisoners. Australian defense force chief Angus Campbel called blooding an “appalling practice”.