Time needed to investigate ‘shameful’ war crimes

Defense Minister Richard Marles is urging patience as investigators finalize their probe into alleged ‘shameful’ war crimes by Australian troops in Afghanistan.

The Acting Prime Minister said it was important to allow the Federal Police to follow up on evidence uncovered by former NSW judge Paul Brereton.

“This is a shameful episode in Australia’s military history,” Mr Marles told Sky News on Sunday.

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“It matters in terms of who we are as a nation, who we are as a people, that our country takes care of that itself.”

Asked when Australians can expect charges to be brought following the investigation, Mr Marles said he would commit to continuing the investigation until its completion.

“There will be no stepping back from this because it is a fundamentally important process for the way we are as a nation,” he said.

Mr Marles has previously suggested he will not overrule former Defense Secretary Peter Dutton’s decision not to strip Defense personnel of the Meritorious Unit Citation, despite the initial recommendation from leaders of defense.

An Office of the Special Investigator works with the Australian Federal Police to investigate allegations of criminal offenses committed by members of the ADF in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2016.

Last year’s scathing Brereton investigation uncovered credible evidence of war crimes committed by Australian special forces while serving in Afghanistan, including 39 killings.

This includes allegations that soldiers tortured two prisoners with junior patrol members tasked with carrying out executions.

In one of the most gruesome allegations, Australian soldiers slit their throats for two 14-year-old boys and dumped their bodies in a river because they believed them to be Taliban sympathisers.

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