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War crime inquiry identifies 39 alleged killings, including ritualistic ‘bloodings’

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The Brereton inquiry report has uncovered 39 alleged unlawful killings of prisoners and civilians by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan, in 23 separate incidents.

ADF Chief Angus Campbell has publicly announced the findings, apologising unreservedly to the Afghan people, and all Australians.

None of the alleged killings occurred in the heat of battle, or were the result of confusion over rules of engagement or the individual’s identity.

Soldiers were found to have ritualistically encouraged their comrades to shoot a prisoner to achieve a first kill, known as a “blooding”.

The ADF Chief called the killings “the most serious breaches” of military conduct and values, “damaging to our moral authority as a military force”.

Systemic problems contributed to the killings, with the report identifying a toxic culture of competitiveness, and failures of reporting.

“Not correcting this culture when it developed was a failure of unit and higher command.”

25 personnel have been implicated in the report, and 19 referred for criminal investigation. Chief Campbell asked Australians to “have faith in the many” whose conduct is appropriate.

Ahead of the report’s public release, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told Ray Hadley he was concerned by the contents of the report.

“Some of the detail that will come out today will be confronting, there’s no doubt about that.”

Certain evidence will be inadmissible in court he said, and “we’re putting the best people together to look at that [prosecution] process, and give people confidence about what’s taken place.”

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Image: Nine News