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Commission of Inquiry into the death of an Australian soldier in Afghanistan

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Issued by Ministerial and Executive Coordination and Communication, Department of Defence, Canberra, ACT Phone: 02 6127 1999, Fax: 02 6265 1545

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Wednesday, 4 April 2012


The Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley, has appointed a Commission of Inquiry into the crash of an Australian CH-47D helicopter in Afghanistan on 30 May 2011, in which Lieutenant Marcus Case was tragically killed.

Lieutenant Case was deployed to Afghanistan as a Heron Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Payload Operator. He died when a CH-47D helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan.

Following the accident, the Chief of Army ordered an Aviation Accident Investigation for the purpose of identifying any aviation safety issues arising from the crash. This investigation was finalised in December 2011.

Defence has considered the Aviation Accident Investigation Report. As a result, the Chief of the Defence Force has appointed a Commission of Inquiry to examine broader issues associated with the helicopter crash and the death of Lieutenant Case. This includes aspects that were not covered by the technical airworthiness investigation but that may have implications for Australian CH-47D operations.

The Aviation Accident Investigation Report will help inform the Commission of Inquiry. As such the Report is not available for public release.

Mr Andrew Kirkham AM, RFD, QC will preside over the Commission of Inquiry. Mr Kirkham is a civilian with judicial experience.

In addition to the President, the Commission of Inquiry will comprise two members with substantial Defence aviation experience, Brigadier William Mellor DSC, AM (Ret’d) and Group Captain Stephen Fielder AM.

The Commission of Inquiry will be an open inquiry. However, the President is permitted to close aspects of the hearings if necessary.

Members of Lieutenant Case's family have been briefed on the findings of the Aviation Accident Investigation into the crash and will be able to attend the Commission of Inquiry if they wish to do so. Defence will continue to provide support to Lieutenant Case's family during the Commission of Inquiry hearings.

The Counsel Assisting Team will undertake detailed preparation for the inquiry hearings over the coming weeks.

Media contact: Defence Media Operations 02 6127 1999