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Australia Former special forces soldier to prosecute cases of alleged Australian war crimes in Afghanistan

13:01  18 may  2020
13:01  18 may  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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A former special forces soldier turned senior lawyer has been appointed to prosecute cases of alleged Australian war crimes during the Afghanistan war.

The ABC can reveal David McClure SC was recently drafted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) for the arduous and high-profile role.

His appointment comes after the Inspector General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF) revealed his long-running inquiry into the conduct of special forces in Afghanistan was in its final stages.

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According to the IGADF's annual report, released in February, investigators are looking into 55 separate incidents of alleged breaches of the rules of war in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016.

The IGADF inquiry has been underway since May 2016 and was sparked by allegations and rumours of special forces troops killing unarmed Afghan men and children.

Separately, Australian Federal Police (AFP) are understood to have also gathered significant evidence of possible crimes, and the recent appointment of Mr McClure as prosecutor could indicate charges may soon be laid.

"It would be inappropriate for the CDPP to comment on matters which remain the subject of an ongoing investigation," a CDPP spokesperson told the ABC.

During his military career Mr McClure deployed to Afghanistan, and in recent weeks he came to public prominence while representing the owners of the Ruby Princess cruise ship during legal proceedings.

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Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has declined to comment on the progress of the IGADF inquiry or on Mr McClure's appointment as a prosecutor for the CDPP.

In March an investigation by the ABC's Four Corners program uncovered new allegations that unarmed civilians were unlawfully killed by Australian special forces in Afghanistan.

An Australian soldier who was shown in the program shooting an unarmed Afghan man was later suspended from duty, with the Defence Minister referring the matter to the AFP Commissioner.

In 2016 former special forces sergeant Kevin Frost came forward to the ABC to claim he helped cover up the shooting of a captive in Afghanistan.

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