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‘Unlawful killing of 39 people’: Special forces war crimes inquiry’s explosive findings

Neil Mitchell
Article image for ‘Unlawful killing of 39 people’: Special forces war crimes inquiry’s explosive findings

A report into war crimes has found “credible information” that Australian Special Forces personnel murdered 39 prisoners and civilians in Afghanistan.

A total of 19 current and former soldiers will face criminal investigation, possible prosecution and may be stripped of their medals.

The explosive Brereton report, the findings of a secret four-year probe into the conduct of Australia’s special forces in Afghanistan, was made public this morning.

General Campbell has accepted all of the report’s findings.

The defence chief says there is “credible information to substantiate 23 incidents of unlawful killing of 39 people by 25 Australian Special Forces personnel, predominately from the Special Air Forces regiment”.

“Those alleged to have been killed were all … prisoners, farmers or other civilians.”

General Campbell said the “shameful incidents” substantiated by evidence include an appalling process known as blooding, where new defence personnel were encouraged to shoot a prisoner for their “first kill”.

He says the horrific incidents are the result of a cultural problem that wasn’t corrected.

“Distorted culture was embraced and amplified by some experienced, charismatic, and influential non-commissioned officers … who sought to fuse military excellence with ego … and entitlement,” he said.

“These findings allege the most serious breaches of military conduct and professional values.”

Press PLAY below for some of the press conference and Neil Mitchell’s reaction.

Neil Mitchell
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