Aus­tralia’s mil­i­tary opens in­quiry into 2013 case of two Afghan civil­ians killed in raid by spe­cial forces

The National - News - - NEWS - GIO­VANNI TORRE Perth

Afghanista­n’s lead­ing hu­man rights or­gan­i­sa­tion said that two Afghan civil­ians killed by Aus­tralian spe­cial forces in 2013 were un­armed.

The killing of Bis­mil­lah Jan Acadi and his son Sadiqul­lah, six, by Aus­tralian SAS troops was orig­i­nally ex­posed by the Aus­tralian Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion two years ago.

ABC’s re­port be­came the sub­ject of an Aus­tralian po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The broad­caster said the farmer and his son were sleep­ing in their vil­lage of Ala Balogh in the cen­tral province of Uruz­gan, when the raid be­gan.

One of Bis­mil­lah’s sons, Es­mat Khan, told ABC: “As soon as they came, they shot them. They didn’t ask him any­thing ... his body was rid­dled with shots like a colan­der.”

A mil­i­tary in­ves­ti­ga­tion cleared the sol­diers af­ter the trooper who shot the fa­ther and son told an in­quiry that Bis­mil­lah aimed a gun at him.

In June this year, Aus­tralian po­lice raided ABC’s Syd­ney head­quar­ters and seized doc­u­ments re­lated to the pro­gramme, act­ing on a war­rant against re­porter Dan Oakes, pro­ducer Sam Clark and ABC News direc­tor Gaven Mor­ris.

Now more than 90 files from Afghanista­n’s In­de­pen­dent Hu­man Rights Commission have been ac­quired by ABC, in­clud­ing one re­port that con­tra­dicts the sol­dier’s ver­sion of events.

This re­port says the target of the Aus­tralian-Afghan army raid was a Tal­iban com­man­der, Mula Sar­dar, who was cap­tured and de­tained for six months.

The file states that “for­eign sol­diers climbed on to the roof of Mula Sar­dar’s neigh­bour’s house. Some sol­diers en­tered the house ... at this point one of the for­eign sol­diers shot and killed both Bis­mil­lah Jan ... and his sixyear-old son Sadiqul­lah while

asleep un­der a blan­ket on the ve­randa”.

Bis­mil­lah’s cousin and neigh­bour, Mo­ham­mad Ma­soom, told the hu­man rights group that the pair were asleep.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Aus­tralian De­part­ment of De­fence told The Na­tional that the In­spec­tor Gen­eral of the Aus­tralian De­fence Force is con­duct­ing “an in­de­pen­dent in­quiry to de­ter­mine whether there is any sub­stance to al­le­ga­tions and ru­mours re­lat­ing to pos­si­ble breaches of the Law of Armed Con­flict by mem­bers of the Aus­tralian De­fence Force in Afghanista­n over the pe­riod 2005 to 2016”.

“It is not ap­pro­pri­ate for De­fence to com­ment fur­ther,” the of­fi­cial said.

The head of the AIHRC, Sha­harzad Ak­bar, told ABC that Bis­mil­lah “was not in any way at­tack­ing the Aus­tralian forces ... He was not a threat. He was a civil­ian”.

Richard Di Natale, leader of the Aus­tralian Greens po­lit­i­cal party crit­i­cised the gov­ern­ment for tak­ing ac­tion against the jour­nal­ists who ex­posed the killings.

“Al­le­ga­tions that Aus­tralian SAS sol­diers killed in­no­cent civil­ians as they slept in their own home and at­tempted to cover up these killings are shock­ing and deeply dis­turb­ing,” he said.

“Our gov­ern­ment should be de­vot­ing more of its en­ergy to un­cov­er­ing the truth of this ter­ri­ble in­ci­dent and less raid­ing news agen­cies like the ABC for re­port­ing on them.”

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the main op­po­si­tion party told The Na­tional the re­ports are “ob­vi­ously con­cern­ing”.

“Labour un­der­stands the In­spec­tor Gen­eral of the Aus­tralian De­fence Force is in­ves­ti­gat­ing sev­eral in­ci­dents in Afghanista­n in­clud­ing this one. It is im­por­tant that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is al­lowed to run its course and it would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate to com­ment at this time,” the of­fi­cial said.

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