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Australia initiates action against 10 soldiers after war crimes report

Australia initiates action against 10 soldiers after war crimes report
An Afghan Air Force MD-530 helicopter flies over Afghan National Defense and Security Forces members during an air-to-ground integration exercise in Kabul Province, Afghanistan, in 2016. File Photo by Kay M. Nissen/NATO
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Nov. 26 (UPI) -- The Australian Department of Defense sent "show cause" notices to 10 members of the elite Special Air Service Regiment following a report unveiling war crimes committed in Afghanistan.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Thursday reported that the Defense Department "initiated administrative action" against serving special forces members following the landmark war crimes report, which revealed, "credible information" that Australian soldiers murdered civilians and prisoners in Afghanistan.

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Defense sources told the ABC members of the SAS's 3 Squadron and the now-disbanded 2 Squadron received the notices that could result in penalties ranging from formal warnings to discharge.

Army Reserve Maj. Gen. Justice Paul Brereton released a report last week identifying 25 members of the SAS as either principal participants or accessories in the murder of Afghan civilians.

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The findings revealed a "warrior culture" within the elite ranks of soldiers involving a "misplaced focus on prestige, status and power" and that the regiments took part in a practice known as "blooding," where junior soldiers were required by their patrol commanders to shoot prisoners.

The Department of Defense also confirmed to The Guardian that it had initiated administrative action "against a number of serving Australian defense force personnel in accordance with legislation and defense policy."

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"As the chief of the defense force said publicly last week, findings by the IGADF Afghanistan 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," a spokesman said.

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"Each matter and individual circumstance will be considered on a case-by-case basis. It is essential that due process is followed and that no further comment be made until the process is complete."

Those who were served with notices were granted two weeks to plead their cases.

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