Medical discharge offered to war crimes accused

 

A group of Special Forces soldiers who faced the sack following the Afghanistan war crimes inquiry have been told they can now discharge on medical grounds.

The soldiers who received a "show cause" notice in November are members of the now disbanded SAS Regiment's 2 Squadron as well as the regiment's 3 Squadron, who are suspected of being accessories or witnesses of alleged murders carried out by other SAS soldiers, in the wake of the ADF's Brereton report.

In January, the SAS members individually submitted a written response through their lawyers, giving their version of events and justifying why they shouldn't face administrative action.

But as the Defence Force continues to deal with the fallout of the Inspector-General's report, over the weekend it notified a number of the soldiers that they wouldn't be sacked and instead will have their medical discharge approved.

Australian soldiers accused of war crimes have been offered a discharge. Picture: Department of Defence
Australian soldiers accused of war crimes have been offered a discharge. Picture: Department of Defence


Those discharging on medical grounds were able to prove they had suffered psychological injuries directly from their service.

"Medical discharge is much better because you get access to DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) support and entitlements and don't have to then fight for a retroactive medical discharge later," lawyer and former military prosecutor Glenn Kolomeitz said. "Involuntary admin discharge as a result of a show cause, then termination notice, is a terrible way to go out."

However, a source close to some of the 13 elite soldiers who received the "show cause" notice told The Daily Telegraph that while some SAS members will be able to discharge, others who were still fighting to stay in the Army are yet to learn their fate.

Those discharging will have to provide proof of their psychological injury. Picture: Department of Defence
Those discharging will have to provide proof of their psychological injury. Picture: Department of Defence

They said many are having repeated nightmares since the release of the report in November, commissioned by the Inspector General of the Australian Defence Force, alleging special forces soldiers were responsible for the murder of at least 39 Afghans.

NSW Justice Paul Brereton's inquiry focused on events between 2005 and 2016 and interviewed 423 witnesses.

Other special forces members may eventually be discharged or face a range of disciplinary sanctions, including formal warnings. A special investigator has been created within the Australian Federal Police to investigate the allegations from the inquiry.

 

Originally published as Medical discharge offered to war crimes accused


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