KABUL: Australia’s prime minister has assured Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that the soldiers responsible for Australian atrocities against Afghan civilians would be brought to justice, the presidential in Kabul said on Friday.
The news comes a day after an inspector of the Australian armed forces released a report containing clear evidence that a group of Australian special forces killed at least 39 Afghan civilians in 23 different incidents between 2009 to 2013.
According to the investigation, 25 perpetrators were identified, of whom some still were serving in the armed forces.
The Afghan government said the report was a major step in ensuring transparency, and that it had full confidence in the Australian legal system that justice would be served.
Between 2001 and 2014, at least 26,000 Australians troops served in Afghanistan.
During the period, 41 Australian forces were killed, and more than 260 others were wounded, according to reports
A report published on Thursday found Australian special forces allegedly killed 39 unarmed prisoners and civilians in Afghanistan, with senior commandos forcing junior soldiers to kill defenceless captives in order to “blood” them for combat.
The report recommended referring 19 current and former soldiers for potential prosecution, in a development that prompted anguish in Australia which usually honours its military history with fervour.
David McBride, a former military lawyer facing charges of leaking information about special forces actions in Afghanistan, felt “buoyed” by the report after years of being treated like a “traitor to the diggers”, his lawyer Mark Davis said using the Australian slang for soldiers.
“If the accusations that he’s previously made are proven right, he will feel vindicated whatever the penalty,” Davis said by telephone. “His reputation will be intact and his sense of honour will be intact.”
McBride has confirmed giving classified documents to the Australian Broadcasting Corp, triggering charges against him and an investigation into the public broadcaster which sensationally led to a raid on its Sydney headquarters last year.
Police dropped the ABC investigation last month, citing lack of public interest in proceeding, but McBride still faces a lengthy prison sentence if found guilty after a trial starting next year.
His charges must now also be dropped, said his lawyer Davis. Dusty Miller, a special forces medic who testified at the inquiry, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp that hearing the country’s defence chief publicly confirm his claims was “complete vindication”. — Agencies