Defense: No Dutch involvement in Australian war crimes

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The Dutch Ministry of Defense is certain that no Dutch were involved in the war crimes committed by Australian elite troops in Afghanistan. Major Peter de Bock tells this in conversation with Press on Thursday, after reporting from the WE.

Australia wants to prosecute soldiers

Defense was already informed by Australia last week that there was no Dutch involvement. Defense did not receive the other results of the investigation until the night from Wednesday to Thursday and are labeled as “very serious” by the spokesman.

“Australian authorities have formally told us that no crimes have taken place in front of Dutch soldiers,” said De Bock. Defense therefore sees no reason to initiate its own investigations, but keeps an eye on any follow-up investigations into Australian soldiers.

Some of the crimes took place in Uruzgan, where Dutch soldiers were also stationed. De Bock cannot say how many Dutch people were active: “After all, it concerns a large area.” Military historian Christ Klep says in conversation with the WE that accusations have never been made about Dutch soldiers in Uruzgan.

Australian special forces are said to have killed at least 39 people illegally between 2005 and 2016, in 23 incidents.

At least 25 soldiers are suspected of involvement. Most of them belonged to the Special Air Service Regiment, an Australian special military unit. Some of them would still serve in the armed forces. Australia wants to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate whether all soldiers can be prosecuted.

The incidents did not take place during firefights. In some cases there would have been a “hazing ritual” for new servicemen. Their leaders would have made them kill prisoners.

The war crimes investigation was started four years ago after accusations in various media. Soldiers were charged with killing children and unarmed men. Australian General John Angus Campbell offered the Afghan people on the night of Wednesday to Thursday his “sincere apologies” for “crimes committed by Australian soldiers,” which he called shameful.

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