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Australian Army Admits Timor Investigation Errors

Army Acknowledges Errors In East Timor Investigation

The Army acknowledged that errors had been made during the investigation and prosecution of an Australian Interfet soldier charged with kicking two dead bodies in East Timor in 1999, LTGEN Peter Leahy, Chief of Army said today.

"Following a complaint to the Inspector General ADF (IGADF) by the soldier concerned, the CDF appointed a senior Naval Reserve legal officer, who in civilian life is a Victorian County Court judge, to conduct an independent inquiry," The inquiry has provided a report which Army has accepted.

"I acknowledge there were errors in the process and I have provided an unreserved apology to the soldier involved," LTGEN Leahy said.

"These were serious allegations that needed to be pursued vigorously. The soldier was found not guilty on all charges."

"I acknowledge there were organisational failures such as the length of the investigation. I also acknowledge problems with the quality of statements taken from witnesses and with Army press releases." LTGEN Leahy said.

The Inquiry Officer found that the soldier's complaints were substantiated. He concluded that the military police investigation was deficient in a number of respects and had taken too long. The administrative action taken against the soldier, of which he was also found not guilty, while possible under current policy, in this case, on reflection would have been best not taken.

"Throughout the lengthy investigation the soldier in question continued to perform his duty in the service of the nation despite the additional stress and scrutiny placed on him and his family. I thank him for his professionalism and his family for their patience and understanding during an enormously difficult and stressful time." LTGEN Leahy also said, "I very much appreciate the constructive and open manner in which the soldier is now working with Army authorities to ensure that the deficiencies shown in Army procedures are rectified and that no one else has to go through an experience like this."

"The soldier was unable to deploy on operations earlier this year as he was required to be available to assist the investigation and during the subsequent prosecution. I am pleased that he is now able to deploy," "The newly established office of Inspector General ADF has demonstrated that as a means of review and audit of the military justice system independent of the ordinary chain of command it is effective and can help to correct errors." LTGEN Leahy said.

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