Australia to appoint special investigator to examine possible prosecution of military in Afghanistan

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images

Australia will appoint a special investigator to determine whether to prosecute members of the country's military for alleged crimes committed in Afghanistan, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday.

Australia in 2016 launched an inquiry into the conduct of its special forces personnel between 2005 and 2016 amid allegations by local media about the killing of unarmed men and children.

While Morrison did not reveal details of the report, which is set to be released next week, he said it will contain "difficult and hard news for Australians".

"Given the likely allegations of serious and possibly criminal misconduct, the matters raised in the inquiry must be assessed, investigated and, where allegations are substantiated, prosecuted in court," Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

Morrison said the special investigator was needed as the probe into the actions of some of Australia's military in Afghanistan was so complex that it would overwhelm and distract the country's normal criminal prosecutor.

The special prosecutor will be assisted by experienced investigators, legal counsel and other support personnel, Morrison said.

Australia is a staunch US ally and has had troops in Afghanistan since 2002.

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