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Inquiry into Sapper Jamie Larcombe’s death finalised

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Inquiry into Sapper Jamie Larcombe’s death finalised

Defence has finalised the inquiry into the death of Sapper Jamie Larcombe in Afghanistan on 19 February 2011.

Sapper Larcombe was an Australian Army combat engineer serving with Mentoring Task Force - Two (MTF-2). He was killed in action during an engagement with insurgents in the Mirabad Valley region of Uruzgan Province.

An Afghan local national employed as an interpreter was also killed in the exchange of fire.

An Inquiry Officer was appointed to examine the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Inquiries into combat deaths are conducted primarily to determine what operational and tactical lessons can be learnt from the incident. Importantly, they also provide information to the soldiers’ families.

The Inquiry Officer made three recommendations in his report and Defence is taking action to address these recommendations. Details of recommendations that may compromise operational security or the Privacy Act cannot be publicly released. One of the recommendations was the need for Defence to improve existing procedures to ensure the dissemination of lessons learned as soon as possible.

The Inquiry Officer also recommended that the circumstances surrounding Sapper Larcombe’s death did not warrant a Commission of Inquiry.

Defence hand delivered a copy of the Inquiry Officer Report to Sapper Larcombe’s family and briefed them on the findings of the Inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his death.

As foreshadowed by the Minister for Defence in his update to Parliament on Afghanistan on 9 February, any decision to release publicly an Inquiry Officer Report rightly comes after weighing the wishes of the family members about publication and the public interest in the release of the report wider than family members and affected persons.

The Minister has weighed the wishes of the family and the public interest in the release of the Report and agreed with the recommendation of the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) not to release the Inquiry Officer Report.

In the past, Inquiry Officer Reports have been released publicly as a matter of course. Recent consideration of the inquiry process for combat deaths determined that routinely releasing inquiry reports did not give adequate consideration to the families’ views with respect to public release.

[13 April 2012]

Decisions to publicly release, or not release, Inquiry Officer Reports are now considered on a case by case basis.

Sapper Larcombe’s family continue to grieve the loss of their son and brother. They do not wish to conduct any media interviews and have asked that their privacy be respected.

Media contact: Defence Media Operations: 02 6127 1999

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