After manslaughter charges were thrown out in May, the Director of Military Prosecutions, Brigadier Lyn McDade, has finally indicated that no further charges would be laid against two commandos in connection with a deadly 2009 raid in Afghanistan that left five children dead, reports Mark Dodd in The Australian (“Aussie soldiers cleared over child deaths in Afghanistan “ 23/6)
Apart from a reform of the law which appears to go against the constitutional intention (a reform we have proposed here), the one outstanding matter of process is the case against their commander, a Lieutenant Colonel.
The soldiers, both from the prestigious 1st Commando Regiment, issued a joint statement. Identified as Sergeant J and Lance Corporal D, they said:
“We need no reminding that our actions contributed to the death of five innocent children.
“We will carry that burden for the rest of our lives. However, we would like people to understand two things: firstly, we did not choose to fight the Afghan male in proximity to the children.
“He forced his callous and reckless choice upon all of us.”
According to Dan Oakes and Rafael Epstein writing in The Age (23/6) revealed that the controversial DMP has been reappointed but for two years only, instead of the five-year term permitted under the law.
The Age understands there was deep resentment within the senior ranks of the Australian Defence Force over Brigadier McDade’s reappointment, because of her decision to prosecute the commandos.
Whether such a centralised and powerful position should exists is one matter the Parliament should urgently consider. it is only beacuse the military judge was prepared to consider the pre-trial hearing as the equivalent of a committal proceeding that the men are not on trial.
Hear leading brodcaster Alan Jones editorial on the prosecutions broadcast on 23 June on the Macquarie Radio Network from Sydney radio station 2GB.