Three Australian soldiers to be prosecuted over Afghan raid
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 28, 2010, 15:42
  
Melbourne: Three Australian soldiers, who were part of the international forces in Afghanistan, will face charges over a deadly raid that left five children dead in that nation, Australia's top military prosecutor has said.

"They will be charged with various service offences, including manslaughter, dangerous conduct, failing to comply with a lawful general order and prejudicial conduct," said Brigadier Lyn McDade, Director of Military Prosecutions.

Meanwhile, two of the three soldiers have denied the charges levelled against them in an incident, that occurred on February 12, 2009 in Uruzgan province.

According to a report in the ABC, two of the soldiers, known only as Soldiers A and B, issued a statement late last night stating that they were forced to make split-second decisions when they came under fire.

They said that when the facts of the battle became public, it would be clear that decisions they took in "truly awful circumstances" would be vindicated.

"We will strenuously defend the charges and we look forward to the opportunity of publicly clearing our reputations, as well as the reputation of the Australian Defence Force," the pair said through law firm Kennedys.

Soldiers A and B also criticised media for what they dubbed "many cases" of inaccurate reports of the clearance operations. They said words would never adequately express their regret that women and children were killed and injured during the incident.

They said those were the people they were risking their lives to protect.

The soldiers put the blame for the deaths at the feet of the enemy, saying it should not be forgotten the casualties were ultimately caused by the "callous and reckless" act of an insurgent, who chose to fire upon them at close range from within a room known to contain women and children.

A Defence spokesman said two of the soldiers are reservists and one is a regular member of the Army.

Director of Military Prosecutions said three former members of the Special Operations Task Group have been charged with a number of offences relating to the February 2009 raid.

One soldier is facing a manslaughter charge, a second has been charged with failing to comply with a lawful general order, and a third, currently travelling overseas, will be formally charged when he returns to Australia.

Defence previously said the deaths occurred as the soldiers conducted clearance operations using gunfire and hand grenades. The decision to press charges came after the ADF carried out an operational investigation and referred the incident to the Director of Military Prosecutions.

PTI


First Published: Tuesday, September 28, 2010, 15:42


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