Sydney: Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith said Monday an inquiry had been launched into "very concerning" claims that teenage military cadets were deprived of sleep during a probe into a sex scandal.
Two young men, aged 18 and 19, were charged late last month over the scandal at a prestigious Australian military college which led to a review of the treatment of women in the armed forces.
It followed a woman going to the media after a male recruit allegedly filmed himself having sex with her and broadcast it via Skype to his friends, with the publicity triggering other complaints about sexual misconduct.
The Sydney Daily Telegraph reported that when detained the cadets were interrogated for 17 hours and deprived of sleep.
It said a complaint was lodged with Australian Defence Force investigators, claiming officers slammed books on tables to keep them awake.
The newspaper also alleged that the lieutenant representing the cadets was assaulted by a ranking officer in the presence of top military brass following heated discussions.
The newspaper further claimed that five cadets, two as young as 17, were held for questioning without legal representation or parental consent during an internal probe into the Skype incident.
Smith confirmed an inquiry had been launched into the claims.
"As far as the allegations of sleep deprivation are concerned, they`re very serious allegations, very concerning of course and are now the subject of a defence inquiry," he told Sky News.
"As for suggestions that there was an assault, that is also the subject of an investigation," he added.
"These are a range of serious issues drawn to the public attention this morning. There is also a suggestion that young cadets were refused or advised not to seek legal advice. That`s also the subject of an inquiry.
"We need to take these matters seriously which we are and they are being investigated as we speak."
Both cadets at the centre of the scandal have been charged with using "a carriage service to cause offence", a crime that covers the abuse of any electronic communications service.
The older man was also charged with an act of indecency.