Child deaths: Aus troops charged

2010-09-27 17:05
Sydney - Three Australian soldiers will face charges including manslaughter over a raid in Afghanistan that left five children dead, Australia's chief military prosecutor said on Monday.

The court action follows an operation in February last year to clear a compound in Uruzgan province where Australian forces believed a Taliban leader was hiding.

Director of Military Prosecutions Brigadier Lyn McDade said the three "will be charged with various service offences, including manslaughter, dangerous conduct, failing to comply with a lawful general order and prejudicial conduct".

A suspected insurgent was also killed in the night raid, while four people were wounded. Two of the servicemen said they would vigorously fight the charges, which are being laid after an Australian military investigation.

"We will strenuously defend the charges and we look forward to the opportunity of publicly clearing our reputations, as well as the reputation of the Australian Defence Force," they said through their lawyers.

A defence department spokesperson said at least one special operations soldier will face a manslaughter charge, along with a count of dangerous conduct.

'Capture or kill' mission


Another of the accused has been charged with failing to comply with a lawful order while the charges against the third accused have not yet been released because the soldier is travelling overseas.

Local media earlier said the case stems from a night-time "capture or kill" mission, involving about 30 Australian soldiers, in which troops exchanged fire with an Afghan man.

The man died, as did five children - including two babies - after grenades were thrown, while other women and children were injured, the Sydney Morning Herald said.

The paper said no military historians it had contacted could recall a previous case where Australian soldiers had been charged over the deaths of civilians in battle.

The defence department said it would not engage in any commentary on the case, but the two accused protested their innocence, saying their actions were justified under the "truly awful circumstances".

"It should not be forgotten that the casualties were ultimately caused by the callous and reckless act of an insurgent who chose to repeatedly fire upon us at extreme close range from within a room he knew contained women and children," they said in a statement issued through their lawyers.

Sensitive issue


The military said all three would be supported throughout the trial, which is expected to begin in early 2011.

"Consistent with the presumption of innocence, these members will receive the full support of the Australian Defence Force," Australia's military chief Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said.

Civilian deaths are a sensitive issue in Afghanistan, where almost 150 000 foreign soldiers from Nato and the United States are battling a Taliban insurgency.

The United Nations reported last month that 1 271 civilians died in violence between January and June this year, with the Taliban responsible for 76% of the deaths.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the development would not impact Australia's 1 550-strong mission to the Central Asian country where troops are training local soldiers.

"Our rules of engagement in Afghanistan and our mission there remain the same," she said.

Read more on:    julia gillard  |  australia  |  afghanistan  |  war crimes
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Red Bull Lionheart trail run - not for the fainthearted!

Entries are open, so what are you waiting for?

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Adventure holidays for your bucket list
Top 10 water sports to try before you die
6 impressive camping tips
LOL! The 8 stages of marathon running

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is an easy social flow and the need to blend in, yet you may not feel entirely comfortable. Something beneath the surface...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.