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Allegations against the SAS.

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Senator Chris Evans Labor Senator for Western Australia Shadow Minister for Defence

21 February 2003


Today’s report that at least one soldier has been charged after allegations of serious misconduct against SAS serving in East Timor in 1999 highlight the need for a full Ministerial statement on this long running matter.

Given the seriousness of the allegations it is totally unacceptable that Australians only hear through the media that charges have been laid against a soldier in connection to the allegations.

The allegations have been the subject of a number of media reports since 1999, most recently in October last year. At the time the Minister failed to provide any detailed explanation of the investigation into the allegations or its progress.

If there is no substance to the allegations the troops concerned deserve to have their names cleared as soon as possible.

The SAS have an unparalleled reputation that deserves to be protected.

If there is any evidence of improper behaviour the people concerned should face justice in Australia.

The Minister should now provide a full statement to the Australian public on the course of the investigation and the charges that have been laid.

While these allegations remain unresolved they will cast a shadow over Australia’s fine contribution to peacekeeping efforts in East Timor.

This again raises serious concerns over the transparency, independence and speed of Defence investigations and reinforces the need for a Director of Military Prosecutions. Having agreed to create this office in August 2001 the Government has failed to even introduce the necessary legislation, let alone appoint the Director.

For comment: Chris Evans 0419 983 593 Tim Friedrich 0408 577 617