Ten SAS soldiers are under investigation by war crimes investigators for...

Ten SAS soldiers are under investigation by war crimes investigators for...
Ten SAS soldiers are under investigation by war crimes investigators for...
Sources from special forces who are not authorized to speak publicly have confirmed that the investigation has heard a number of confessions from soldiers. This presents a potentially significant, but not insurmountable, challenge for investigators looking to convert Justice Brereton’s findings into evidence that can be admitted to a prosecution in court. Confessions obtained during mandatory interrogation and evidence derived from those confessions cannot be used to prosecute the confessor under Australian law, but testimony can be used in future legal proceedings.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Thursday that the government would appoint a special investigator to work with police and prosecutors to oversee referrals by Justice Brereton. The appointment recognizes the limitations of the evidence gathered by the Inspector General.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Defense Secretary Linda Reynolds announce a special war crimes investigator Thursday.Recognition:Alex Ellinghausen

Mr Morrison also said that any soldiers subject to the charges necessary to face the consequences and it is important to hold accountable those “who have responsibility for the environment in which these Australians have served” .

Mr Morrison said the Australian Defense Forces personnel should be very proud and it was important that not all members were tarnished by the report. But he said the high standards and respect for the ADF “require us to deal with honest and brutal truths.” Mr Morrison said Australia needs “a deep respect for justice and the rule of law”.

In 2018, then-Chief of Defense, Mark Binskin, referred Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith for investigation by the Federal Police, which recently presented brief evidence to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. The DPP is examining whether the war hero should be charged.


Mr Roberts-Smith, who denies wrongdoing and has started libel proceedings against him Age and Herold, will be among the SAS numbers referred to the special investigator, special forces sources said.

On Thursday evening, Mr Roberts-Smith released a statement falsely claiming that a “member of the media” had induced the police force to commit his alleged war crimes. Indeed, Air Chief Marshal Binskin referred Mr Roberts-Smith to AFP following an earlier referral received by the Defense Chief for alleged criminal conduct of Justice Brereton’s VC recipient.

Mr Roberts-Smith’s statement also attempted to dismiss Justice Brereton’s investigation as being based on “rumors” despite the senior judge conducting more than 350 oath interviews and examining thousands of classified information. He welcomed the announcement by Mr Morrison and Secretary of Defense Linda Reynolds and said it was “encouraging” that the matter was being investigated by a dedicated investigative agency.

According to defense sources, most of the alleged war crimes investigated by Justice Brereton concerned the Perth-based SAS – particularly a small number of Squadron 2 and 3rd soldiers – rather than the Sydney-based commandos. A previous SAS source said most of the few culprits passed through the regiment’s elite water utility division, which specializes in initiating sea combat.

Another telling aspect of the evidence gathered was, according to defense sources, that it was allegations of war crimes committed and covered up by senior and junior soldiers, rather than officers. However, officers and the leadership of the defense forces have been rigorously scrutinized to enable a culture in which allegedly criminal acts are normalized.

The debate over how responsibility for alleged war crimes should be shared is already dividing the special forces. Former and serving members variously accuse the cliques of soldiers who allegedly perpetrated them, the officers who failed to respond to warning signs or promoted cultural malaise, and the defense and political leaders who even use the military coalition’s strategy to ” Capture and Killing ”as the prospect of victory in Afghanistan vanished.

Mr Morrison and Senator Reynolds did not rule out the dissolution of the SAS, but senior defense officials, including the youngest chief of the special forces, Maj. Gen. Adam Findlay, have made a strong signal that it will not. Part of the reason for the reform, and not the dissolution, of the SAS lies in the fact that it was SAS whistleblowers, including several Afghan war veterans, who exposed the inspector general’s wrongdoing.

General Campbell is halfway through implementing reforms that are based on maintaining the elite regiment.

Mr Morrison said Justice Brereton’s report was “difficult and difficult news for Australians”.

In anticipation of this, Mr. Morrison will appoint either a senior attorney or a retired judge as the country’s special war crimes investigator. The investigator will be based at the Home Office, along with attorneys and state and state detectives overseeing the ongoing investigation and referral of criminal charges to the Commonwealth Attorney.

The government has also announced the creation of a new independent oversight body to drive cultural change within the ADF and implement the recommendations of the Brereton report.

Senator Reynolds said the board of directors would be set up so “accountability and transparency are outside the ADF chain of command and outside of government.”

Scott Morrison and Channel Seven owner and chairman of the Australian War Memorial, Kerry Stokes, at a Memorial Day celebration. Recognition:Alex Ellinghausen
The body is made up of the former Inspector General for Intelligence and Security, Dr. Vivienne Thom, former Secretary General Robert Cornall, and Vice Chancellor and Ethicist Rufus Black of the University of Tasmania.

In a separate press conference on Thursday, media mogul Kerry Stokes was asked why he was supporting Mr Roberts-Smith, whom he hired as an executive at Channel Seven in 2015.
“Mr. Roberts-Smith is a valued manager who has excelled and achieved great results in Queensland that we are all proud of,” said Mr. Stokes.

“He has a defamation process against various media. It is not my business to comment on this. And the fact that he was recognized … I don’t think that’s in question. ”

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Nick McKenzie is an investigative reporter for The Age. He has won nine Walkley Awards and has worked in politics, business, foreign and defense, human rights, criminal justice, and social affairs.

Gold Walkley Award Winning Journalist and Author. He was the first Australian journalist to be embedded in special forces in Afghanistan.

Anthony is the foreign affairs and national security correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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