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May 19, 2024 4:21 pm

Ex-Australian soldier charged with war crime over Afghan killing

An ex-Australian soldier has been charged with a war crime over the killing of an Afghan man during the war in Afghanistan. The charges were announced by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) on Tuesday, March 20th, 2023.

The former soldier, whose identity has not been released, was charged with murder in relation to an incident that took place in Afghanistan in 2012. According to the AFP, the man was on patrol when he encountered an unarmed Afghan man who he is alleged to have shot and killed.

The incident was investigated by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) after it was reported by another soldier who witnessed the killing. The ADF referred the matter to the AFP for further investigation, which led to the charges being laid.

The charges mark the first time an Australian soldier has been charged with a war crime in relation to the conflict in Afghanistan, which began in 2001 and officially ended in 2021. The conflict saw thousands of Australian soldiers deployed to Afghanistan to support US-led efforts to fight the Taliban and other militant groups.

The charges come amid ongoing controversy over the conduct of Australian soldiers in Afghanistan. In November 2022, a report by the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force found evidence of war crimes committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan, including the murder of prisoners and civilians.

The report led to the sacking of several senior officers and the establishment of a special prosecutor’s office to investigate the allegations. The charges against the ex-soldier are the first to result from that investigation.

In a statement, the AFP said that the charges demonstrated Australia’s commitment to holding its military personnel to account for their actions. “The AFP takes all allegations of war crimes seriously and will pursue any credible evidence of criminal activity,” the statement said.

The ex-soldier is expected to appear in court at a later date. If convicted, he could face life imprisonment. The case is likely to attract significant media attention, both in Australia and around the world, as it raises questions about the conduct of Australian soldiers in Afghanistan and the accountability of military personnel for their actions in warzones.

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