Former Australian soldier charged with killing an Afghan
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Police on Monday made the first arrest of an Australian combat veteran for alleged murder in Afghanistan after a three-year war crimes investigation found 19 Australian Special Forces soldiers could face charges of unlawful conduct during the conflict. .
The Australian Federal Police said in a statement that a 41-year-old man has been arrested in the state of New South Wales and will be charged with war murder.
“It will be alleged that he killed an Afghan man while on deployment to Afghanistan,” the statement said. man was Selected by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. and News Corp. as former Special Air Service Regiment soldier Oliver Schultz.
ABC broadcast helmet camera video in 2020 of a soldier it said shot an Afghan man in 2012 in a wheat field in Uruzgan province.
He faces a possible life sentence if convicted.
Police are working with the Office of the Special Investigator, an Australian investigative agency established in 2021, to build cases against an elite special forces and commando regiment who served in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016.
FILE – Chief of the Australian Defense Force General Angus Campbell hands over the findings of the Australian Defense Force Inspector General’s Inquiry into Afghanistan, in Canberra, on November 19, 2020. On Monday, March 20, 2022, police arrested the first Australian combat veteran for an alleged murder in Afghanistan Three years after a war crime investigation found 19 Australian Special Forces soldiers could face charges of illegal conduct during the conflict (Mick Tsikas/Pool Photo via AP, File)
A military report released in 2020 after a four-year investigation Evidence found that Australian forces unlawfully killed 39 Afghan prisoners, farmers and civilians. The report recommended that 19 current and former soldiers face a criminal investigation.
Benjamin Roberts Smith, the highest-ranking member of the Australian Armed Forces when he left the SAS in 2013, was accused by former colleagues of unlawful treatment of prisoners, including unlawful killings. The former corporal, who was awarded the Victoria Cross and the Gallantry Medal for his service in Afghanistan, has denied any misconduct.
A year-long defamation trial against newspapers The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times concluded in July 2022, but the verdict has yet to be announced.
More than 39,000 Australian soldiers have served in Afghanistan in the 20 years to the 2021 withdrawal, and 41 have been killed there.
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