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Fears Aussie soldiers could be sued by suspected terrorists

A former army officer is expressing concern Australian soldiers could be hauled before civil courts on the word of suspected terrorist insurgents.

Former Nationals Senator and army officer Bill O’Chee says several lawyers are worried the Brereton inquiry, an inquiry established to investigate the conduct of Aussie soldiers in Afghanistan, could result in grievances against troops being heard in the civil system.

Mr O’Chee supports the investigation, telling Ben Fordham Australian soldiers who commit crimes should be punished.

But the former senator says defence force members, who have gone overseas to do their job, shouldn’t face being sued when they come home.

“What everyone is concerned about is the potential that soldiers who’ve gone and done their job would be sued, for example, by Afghan detainees in courts in Australia and be subject to the possibility of having to pay damages, out of their own pocket, to people who were suspected terrorists.”

Mr O’Chee says UK firms have successfully filed matters against soldiers and it shouldn’t be allowed to happen on our shores.

“One firm, in May this year, lodged 250 lawsuits on behalf of Iraqi detainees even though it transpired that they knew that some of these people that they were representing were in fact members of ISIL.”

Mr O’Chee says our politicians should unite to prevent our defence personnel from facing civil action.

“The government and the opposition should legislate so Australian soldiers who are serving overseas should not be sued in Australian courts for anything that happens whilst they are overseas.”

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