Report Alleges War Crimes by Australian Special Forces Murdering Afghan Civilians

Society | November 19, 2020, Thursday // 17:37|  views

Maj Gen Justice Paul Brereton

Australian special forces were allegedly involved in the murder of 39 Afghan civilians, in some cases executing prisoners to “blood” junior soldiers before inventing cover stories and planting weapons on corpses, a major report has found.

For more than four years, the Maj Gen Justice Paul Brereton has investigated allegations that a small group within the elite Special Air Services and commandos regiments killed and brutalised Afghan civilians, in some cases allegedly slitting throats, gloating about their actions, keeping kill counts, and photographing bodies with planted phones and weapons to justify their actions.

The findings of Brereton’s report, released on Thursday, are confronting and damning.

Special forces were responsible for dozens of unlawful killings, the vast majority of which involved prisoners, and were deliberately covered up.

Thirty-nine Afghans were unlawfully killed in 23 incidents, either by special forces or at the instruction of special forces.

None of the killings took place in the heat of battle, and they all occurred in circumstances which, if accepted by a jury, would constitute the war crime of murder.

The vast majority of victims had been captured and were under control, giving them the protection under international law.

“Typically, the patrol commander would take a person under control and the junior member … would then be directed to kill the person under control,” the report found. “‘Throwdowns’ would be placed with the body and a ‘cover story’ was created for the purposes of operational reporting and to deflect scrutiny.”

The chief of the ADF, General Angus Campbell, promised to act on the Brereton report’s “shameful”, “deeply disturbing” and “appalling” findings about the conduct of Australian special forces./Guardian

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