A shocking Australian war crimes military report found evidence that Australian elite troops unlawfully killed 39 Afghan prisoners, farmers and civilians.
Australian Defense Force Chief General Angus Campbell said on Thursday the shameful death toll included suspected cases in which new members of the patrol would shoot a prisoner in order to carry out their first murder in a practice known as “blood”. He said the soldiers would then plant weapons and radios to support false claims that the prisoners were enemies killed in action.
Campbell told reporters in Canberra that the illegal killings began in 2009, with the majority taking place in 2012 and 2013. He said some members of the Special Air Service elite encouraged “a self-centered warrior culture.”
The chief announced the results of a four-year investigation by Major-General Paul Brereton, a judge and Army reservist who was asked to review the allegations and interview more than 400 witnesses and examine thousands of pages of documents. Brereton recommended that 19 soldiers be investigated by police for possible charges, including murder.
“To the Afghan people, on behalf of the Australian Defense Forces, I sincerely and wholeheartedly apologize for any wrongdoing by Australian soldiers,” said Campbell.
He said he spoke directly to his Afghan military counterpart to express his remorse.
“Such alleged behavior has deeply disrespected the trust placed in us by the Afghan people who asked us to come to their country to help them,” said Campbell. “It would have devastated the lives of Afghan families and communities, causing immeasurable suffering and suffering. And that would have jeopardized our mission and the security of our Afghan partners and the coalition.
In addition to the 39 murders, the report makes two allegations of cruel treatment. He says none of the alleged crimes were committed during the heat of battle.
The report states that a total of 25 current or former soldiers were implicated as perpetrators or accomplices in 23 separate incidents, some being involved once and multiple times.
The report states that most of the alleged crimes were committed and covered up at the level of the patrol commander by corporals and sergeants, and that while the higher-level troop and squadron commanders had to take some responsibility for them. events that took place under their care, they were not. mainly to blame.
The report paints a picture of a toxic culture in which soldiers competed with those of other squadrons, death accounts were disinfected or embellished, and many procedures to ensure safety and integrity had been abandoned.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has already announced that a special investigator will help pursue possible prosecutions because the workload will overwhelm existing police resources.
Many troops will also be stripped of their medals and the defense force will undergo significant structural changes. The report says that where there is credible evidence of unlawful killings, Afghan families should be compensated immediately by Australia without waiting for criminal prosecution to continue.
“This will be an important step in rehabilitating Australia’s international reputation, especially with Afghanistan, and it is simply the right thing to do,” the report said.