Meanwhile, Two and a half years later........


Defence drops last of Afghan raid charges

LEGAL action has finally ended against a group of Australian commandos involved in a disastrous raid in which six Afghan civilians died.
The Director of Military Prosecutions on Monday applied formally to withdraw the last of the charges against a regular army officer.
The Judge Advocate ordered a charge of failing to comply with a general order and in the alternative, prejudicial conduct, be dropped.
Manslaughter charges against two commando reserve soldiers, a sergeant and a lance corporal, were withdrawn at a pre-trial hearing in May.
Defence said all legal processes relating to charges over the incident had now been concluded.
The charges stemmed from a raid conducted by members of the Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) in Afghanistan on February 12, 2009.
SOTG soldiers came under fire as they conducted a compound clearance operation, responding with gunfire and hand grenades. Six civilians, including five children, were killed as a result of the operation.

"The legal processes that were adhered to in relation to this matter were independent of the chain of command," he said.



Defence force chief General David Hurley said Defence was committed to proper processes to ensure those charged received a fair trial and the integrity of the military legal process was preserved.


Defence Minister Stephen Smith said he would now ask the director of Military Prosecutions Brigadier Lyn McDade to provide a comprehensive assessment of the case and of circumstances which led to it being finalised.


Mr Smith said these were the first charges for manslaughter in the theatre of war for a very long time.


"It is important, given the opportunity, just to run the ruler over the system, given this is the first time we have experienced such matters in living memory,'' he told ABC television.


"It would of course would be entirely inappropriate to do such a thing in the midst, or in the course, of such proceedings.''


Mr Smith said he would make a judgement on whether that assessment could be publicly released, taking advice from General Hurley and Defence Department secretary Duncan Lewis.

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