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Shooting of unarmed Afghan man by Australian soldiers a "murder": former army boss

Breaking News2020-03-18


A former head of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has described the 2012 shooting of an Afghan man by Australian soldiers as a "murder."

Chris Barrie, who served as Chief of the ADF between 1998 and 2002, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Wednesday that he was "shocked" by footage of the shooting broadcast by the ABC on Monday night.

The footage from a soldier's helmet camera shows a Special Air Service (SAS) operator shooting the unarmed Afghan man - Dad Mohammed - three times in the head and chest while he cowers on the ground in a wheat field.

Barrie said that from what he saw in the video the shooting would constitute a "simple case of murder" if it happened on the streets of Australia.

"The man was not armed, the man was in a docile situation, and he was shot," Barrie said.

"Which, if this was to happen on the streets in Australia, would be a simple case of murder."

"Now, in a situation where you have armed forces which are carrying out tasks in another place, under the appropriate rules of engagement and the laws of armed conflict, this is a war crime."

An ADF investigation into the shooting found that the soldier, who remains a member of the SAS, acted in self-defense.

The incident is now the subject of an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan, being undertaken by the Inspector-General of the ADF.

Andrew Hastie, a government Member of Parliament and former SAS soldier, said he found the footage "morally repugnant."

"Like any normal Australian, I had that visceral reaction, but also as a former Australian soldier myself who wore our flag on my left shoulder overseas on operations, I felt ashamed and many Australians probably feel the same way," he said.


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