Canberra, April 12 (IANS) Australian Defence Force (ADF) chief Angus Campbell has declined to give details about how many soldiers could face criminal prosecution over alleged war crimes in Afghanistan, but warned of “uncomfortable days”.
In a speech to a think tank, the Chief of the Defence Force said that the investigations continue, and the ADF needed to confront its failures, reports Xinhua news agency.
In 2020, Campbell released a four-year inquiry by Court of Appeal Justice Paul Brereton.
Credible evidence was found that soldiers from the Australian special forces committed up to 39 murders while serving in the war-torn nation.
Altogether 19 soldiers were referred for criminal investigation.
The Office of the Special Investigator (OSI), established in the wake of the report, has said it is investigating more than 40 alleged offenses.
“The OSI, which is working independently, has seen a first arrest and charging of a former soldier. You won’t see me trying to gloss over these things, and I think that there could be some very uncomfortable days coming forward,” Campbell added.
The 2020 inquiry report blamed the murders of “prisoners, farmers or civilians” in 2009-13 on an unchecked “warrior culture” among some soldiers.
It said 25 special forces soldiers had taken part in unlawful killings directly or as “accessories”, across 23 separate incidents.
It recommended that 36 incidents in total be investigated by federal police.
Before Kabul’s fall to the Taliban in August 2021, Australia maintained an operation of around 400 soldiers in Afghanistan.