Scott Morrison hires a special investigator to probe war crime allegations against Australian Defence Force troops in Afghanistan
The prime minister will establish the Office of the Special Investigator to deal with ‘very serious’ allegations that will be revealed in a report next Thursday.
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said she is considering stripping some troops of their medals over the allegations and the prime minster did not rule out disbanding special forces units.
Four years ago Major General Paul Brereton, who is a NSW Supreme Court judge, was asked to examine rumours and allegations relating to possible unlawful killings and other breaches of combat laws in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2016.
Scott Morrison is hiring a special investigator to probe war crime allegations against Australian special forces in Afghanistan (stock image)
Scott Morrison is hiring a special investigator to probe war crime allegations against Australian troops between 2005 and 2016
The report, which was handed to Defence Force Chief Angus Campbell on Friday, will contain allegations of ‘disturbing conduct,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘This will be difficult and hard news for Australians, I can assure you,’ the prime minister told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.
‘Given the likely allegations of serious and possibly criminal misconduct, the matters raised in the inquiry must be assessed, investigated and where allegations are substantiated, prosecuted in court.’
The special investigator will be an ’eminent person with experience with the justice system and international law,’ Mr Morrison said.
The office, which will be able to recommend criminal charges, will include top Australian Federal Police investigators and also state and territory police officers.
‘There is a significant number of incidents or issues to be investigated further and that investigation will be inherently complex,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘The investigation will require cooperation with international agencies and the evaluation of large amounts of material.’
A separate oversight panel will be established to investigate the Australian Defence Force’s response to the claims.
The prime minister said the investigation will prevent the need for a probe by the International Criminal Court.
‘We need to deal with this as Australians, [through] our laws, through our own justice processes and we will and I think that will say a lot about Australia,’ he said.
Four years ago Major General Paul Brereton was asked to examine rumours and allegations relating to possible unlawful killings and other breaches of combat laws in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2016 (stock image)