Several members of the Special Air Service Regiment implicated in the Afghanistan war crimes inquiry are reportedly facing possible expulsion after being issued with “show cause” notices.
The Defence Department began action against special forces members after last week’s damning war crimes report was publicly released.
They are suspected to have been accessories or witnesses to alleged murders, but are not among the personnel who Justice Paul Brereton recommended be referred to the Australian Federal Police, according to the ABC.
“Defence can confirm it has initiated administrative action against a number of serving Australian Defence Force personnel in accordance with legislation and Defence policy,” a spokesperson told the ABC.
“Findings by the … inquiry of alleged negligence by individuals in the performance of their duties have been accepted by the CDF, and allegations will be managed through the ADF’s administrative and disciplinary processes.”
The Defence Department said those subject to administrative action had a right to respond within two weeks of receiving their notice and could also apply for an extension to provide a written response.
“Each matter and individual circumstance will be considered on a case-by-case basis,” the spokesperson said.
NCA NewsWire is seeking comment from the Defence Department.
The bombshell report last week found Australia’s special forces unlawfully killed farmers and civilian prisoners for the purpose of “blooding”, whereby a soldier takes a life as a rite of passage.
The report, released after a four-year inquiry involving hundreds of witnesses, examined the actions of special forces soldiers in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016.
It found there was credible information to substantiate 23 incidents of alleged unlawful killing of 39 people by 25 soldiers.
Defence Force Chief General Angus Campbell last week apologised to the people of Afghanistan.
“It is alleged that some patrols took the law into their own hands, rules were broken, stories concocted, lies told and prisoners killed,” he said.
“Once that rule was broken, so too, for some, was any further restraint.
“I would never have conceived an Australian would be doing this in the modern era.
“That is one of the most damaging aspects of this report … and it does undermine the Defence Force’s moral authority.”