Australian SAS soldiers in Afghanistan.
Australian SAS soldiers in Afghanistan.

‘Unlawful killings’: Special Forces soldier probe delayed

Exclusive: An inquiry into war crimes allegedly committed by some of Australia's Special Forces soldiers in Afghanistan has been further delayed, and is now not due to report until at least September.

The report by the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force was expected to be handed to Defence Minister Linda Reynolds in June or July, but has been delayed to give soldiers time to respond to formal notices which essentially accuse them of committing war crimes.

A number of current and former Special Forces soldiers have been served with the "potentially affected person (PAP)'' notices by investigators, who have spent the past four years examining events in Afghanistan.

The notices, similar to a show cause notice, give soldiers a chance to respond to a draft finding made by NSW judge Justice Paul Brereton, who is leading the four-year inquiry on behalf of Inspector-General James Gaynor.

Australian SAS soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan.
Australian SAS soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan.

The final report will be handed to the Chief of the Defence Force, General Angus Campbell, Senator Reynolds, and ultimately to the Federal Cabinet.

It is not yet known how much of the report will be made public. Mr Gaynor's annual report, tabled in Parliament last year, revealed investigators were examining 55 incidents, including "unlawful killings.''

The most high-profile of the soldiers under investigation is war hero, VC-recipient Ben Roberts-Smith.

The Federal Court, which will hear a defamation case brought by Mr Roberts-Smith against Nine media over their reporting of the Afghanistan inquiry, this week halted a move to have Mr Roberts-Smith reveal whether or not he has received a PAP notice. He has strongly denied any wrongdoing.

A defence spokesperson confirmed to News Corp Australia that "the IGADF Afghanistan Inquiry is still ongoing.''

"The timeframe is influenced by the number and complexity of lines of inquiry and the need for thoroughness and fairness,'' the spokesperson said.

"On completion, the IGADF will release the Inquiry report to the Chief of the Defence Force.''

 

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