SYDNEY: Australian special forces allegedly killed 39 unarmed prisoners and civilians in Afghanistan, with senior commandos reportedly forcing junior soldiers to kill defenceless captives in order to “blood” them for combat, a four year investigation found.
Australia said on Thursday that 19 current and former soldiers will be referred for potential criminal prosecution for allegedly killing the 39 Afghan locals.
Detailing the findings of a long-awaited inquiry into the conduct of special forces personnel in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016, Australia’s General Angus John Campbell said there was credible information of 39 unlawful killings by 25 Australian Special Forces personnel in 23 separate incidents.
All of those kills were outside the “heat of battle”, Campbell said.
“These findings allege the most serious breaches of military conduct and professional values,” Campbell told reporters in Canberra.
“The unlawful killing, of civilians and prisoners is never acceptable.”
The report said the majority of those killed, which included prisoners, farmers and other Afghan locals, were captured when they were killed and therefore protected under international law.
Following the recommendations of the report, Campbell said 19 current and former members of Australia’s military will be referred to a soon-to-be appointed special investigator to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to prosecute.
Australia’s Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said last week that Canberra had been advised that local prosecution would negate charges at the International Criminal Court at The Hague.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had earlier warned the report would include “difficult and hard news for Australians”, but few expected some of the most shocking revelations.
While the report was heavily redacted, it included allegations that senior special forces personnel ordered the killing of unarmed Afghans.
“There is credible information that junior soldiers were required by their patrol commanders to shoot a prisoner, in order to achieve the soldier’s first kill, in a practice that was known as ‘blooding’,” the report read.
Once a person had been killed, those allegedly responsible would stage a fight scene with foreign weapons or equipment to justify their action, the report concluded.
The actions did not immediately come to light due to what the report concluded was a culture of secrecy and
compartmentalisation in which information was kept and controlled within patrols.
The veil of secrecy was a key reason that the allegations took so long to come to light.
Although it has been the subject of rumour, Australia’s official investigation only began after the publication of classified documents about alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.
A former military lawyer, David McBride, has been charged with providing the classified papers to the Australian Broadcasting Corp. He admits that he supplied the papers, but says it is in the national interest.
The four-year inquiry was conducted by New South Wales state Judge Paul Brereton, who was appointed by the Inspector-General of Defence in 2016 to investigate rumours of war crimes in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2016.
The inquiry examined more than 20,000 documents and 25,000 images, and interviewed 423 witnesses under oath.
The report recommended Canberra should compensate victims’ families even without a successful prosecution.
Campbell said he would seek to revoke citations for special operations task groups that served in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2013.
The release of the report came after Morrison spoke with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
“The Prime Minister of Australia expressed his deepest sorrow over the misconduct by some Australian troops in Afghanistan,” Ghani’s office wrote on Twitter.
Australia has had troops in Afghanistan since 2002 as part of the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Taliban militia.
Australia has about 1,500 troops remaining in Afghanistan.
KATHMANDU: Nepal's coronavirus death-toll has advanced to 1,986 with seven more fatalities reported on Friday. Globally, 2.1 million people have lost their lives to Covid-19 while more than 98 million people have been infected by the disease. Today, 302 new coronavirus cases surfaced after whi Read More...
KATHMANDU: Former captain of the men's National Cricket Team Paras Khadka along with Kushal Malla and Karan KC have left for UAE to play in the T-10 League Cricket Championship, on Thursday evening. The cricket championship is taking place from January 28 to February 6. Khadka would take on th Read More...
Kathmandu, January 22 Large mass rallies were taken out today by the Dahal-Nepal faction of ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) in Kathmandu Valley. See in the pictures are protesters in thousands walking the roads of the capital city to meet at a mass gathering. Also participating in the demon Read More...
KATHMANDU: Nepal on Friday reported 302 new cases of coronavirus infection from across the country. With this, the nationwide infection count has advanced to 268,948. Of the total cases, 133 are females while 169 are males. In the last 24 hours, 112 cases surfaced in Kathmandu valley. The capi Read More...
KATHMANDU: On Friday, 112 individuals --53 women, 59 men -- were reported to have contracted the coronavirus infection in the Kathmandu valley. 90 of the 112 infections surfaced in Kathmandu while 13 and nine cases were detected in Lalitpur and Bhaktapur, respectively. According to the data Read More...
WASHINGTON: Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is proposing to push back the start of Donald Trump's impeachment trial to February to give the former president time to prepare and review his case. House Democrats who voted to impeach Trump last week for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol ri Read More...
WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO: President Joe Biden is hiring a group of national security veterans with deep cyber expertise, drawing praise from former defense officials and investigators as the US government works to recover from one of the biggest hacks of its agencies attributed to Russian spies. Read More...
KATHMANDU: Nepal’s Health Ministry shared the latest updates on coronavirus contagion from across the country. READ ALSO: Kathmandu valley logs 112 coronavirus infections Friday Till date, 2,035,301 tests through Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) method have been carried out wherein 3,545 tes Read More...