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Minister Comments On Manning Inquiry Findings

The Minister of Defence Mark Burton has welcomed the findings of the Court of Inquiry into the death of Private Leonard Manning.

Mr Burton has been briefed on the inquiry's findings by the Chief of Defence Force, Air Marshal Carey Adamson.

"The Court has confirmed the outstanding professionalism of our troops and that Private Manning's tragic death could not have been prevented," Mark Burton said.

"His death was a reminder of the dangerous and difficult task facing the personnel of the New Zealand Defence Force in East Timor.

"The militia have posed and continue to pose a real threat to the safety of the East Timorese people and the United Nations force entrusted with the task of protecting them.

"The indignities inflicted upon Private Manning's body are indefensible. I hope his family can take some comfort from the confirmation that death would have been immediate following the single gunshot wound to the head.

"I note that rumours spread in an anonymous e-mail and irresponsibly supported by some politicians had no foundation in fact. The Steyr rifles carried by Private Manning's patrol did not jam during the encounter. This rumour caused considerable additional distress for Private Manning's family.

"All members of the 2/1 RNZIR Battalion Group are to be commended for the professional way in which they dealt with the loss of a comrade. The stability that they have helped bring to East Timor will be Private Manning's lasting legacy," Mark Burton said.


Contact: Chris Roberts [Press Secretary] 04 471-9773 or 025 270-9012
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