A “shameful record” of Australian special forces “warrior culture” leading to the unlawful killing of 39 people in Afghanistan has been uncovered by the nation’s military.
It is not known if the victims were enemy combatants or civilians.
In a brief released by the Australian Defence Force (ADF), an inquiry has detailed 57 incidents and associated evidence gathered from many hundreds of so-called witnesses to actions disgracing the name of both the nation and the branch of military served.
Speaking after the ADF findings were released, General Angus Campbell said that “credible evidence” has now shown that 25 members of the Australian Special Air Service (SAS) took part in killings that were not part of “the heat of battle”.
General Campbell said of the murders that “(N)one were alleged to have occurred in circumstances in which the intent of the perpetrator was unclear, confused or mistaken” continuing “(And) every person spoken to by the inquiry thoroughly understood the law of armed conflict and the rules of engagement under which they operated.”
The revelations led to current Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to offer his “deepest sorrow” reports from Canberra say.
At present, however, no word on the individuals determined to be involved in the murders facing subsequent punishment has been released.
All the investigations took place out of the public eye, and the inquiry has no legal authority to move forward with prosecutions.
Prime Minister Morrison has said the findings and report being made public will be “difficult and hard news for Australians” to bear.