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Result Of Investigation Into Drug Use Allegations

Result Of Investigation Into Drug Use Allegations

Charges brought against six junior New Zealand Defence Force personnel alleged to have used drugs in Bamyan, Afghanistan, in March this year have been dismissed.

The charges against the six were dismissed this afternoon after legal advice that the correct legal procedure was not followed when the accused were initially interviewed in Afghanistan about the allegations. As a result of this procedural error in the field, all evidence against the six was considered inadmissible to a court martial.

“When these allegations were first raised those who initially investigated them in Afghanistan acted in the best interests of the security of the whole contingent. However, in trying to investigate these serious allegations in an operational environment proper process was not followed,” said Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Jerry Mateparae.

"While it is extremely disappointing the allegations will not be tested, the New Zealand Defence Force must ensure the rights of our people to a fair hearing on any disciplinary matter are preserved,” General Mateparae said.

“I have been briefed on how this situation came about and I am satisfied that the breach of process while serious, wasn’t deliberate. Further investigation will determine what remedial actions need to be taken to prevent such a breach from occurring again.

The six accused have been advised the charges have been dismissed and that no disciplinary or administrative action is able to be taken against them as a result of the allegations. However, counselling is be offered to the six.

“The New Zealand Defence Force will always take a zero-tolerance approach to drug use by service personnel whether under instruction, training or on operations,” said General Mateparae.


Background Note:
NZDF has been reviewing its military justice system, with the aim of simplifying processes while ensuring the rights of personnel are protected. A new training programme will reach all 11,500 Service personnel before 01 July 2009, including certifying an appropriate number of officers as 'disciplinary officers', and 'defending officers'. This project will vastly strengthen and improve the Defence Force's justice system and bring it completely up-to-date for the situations it faces today.

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