The ADF has said legal processes are continuing into the killings of six Afghans, after SBS’s Dateline found family of the slain children had not been officially quetioned – despite the incident happening over a year ago.
Four children, a teenager and an adult died in the mission in Oruzgan Province in February last year, which the survivors say wrongly targeted them over the search for a Taliban leader.
The ADF has since told AAP that Act of Grace payments had been paid to family members, and defended carrying out the practice despite the delayed legal action.
“Defence uses this mechanism to make Act of Grace payments in order to respect the cultural norms in Afghanistan.
“To act in any other way would undermine well established local customs and practices.”
The survivors were tracked down by Dateline. One of them, Zahir Khan, was sleeping in the family compound that came under attack. His sister, his brother and his brother’s children were killed.
Khan claims he was forced out at gunpoint, hearing gunfire and explosions coming from the next room. He was then taken away and interrogated, the troops asking him if his brother was a member of the Taliban.
Zahir’s sister-in-law Shapero claims she was in a room that was attacked.
“My oldest son was cut to pieces, my daughter was shot in the head and chest and she died,” she tells Dateline. “They were meant to be in the other house. Instead of the house on the hill, they attacked us.”
Dateline has presented its findings to the Australian Defence Force and asked it to explain its troops’ actions.
The ADF says it’s now placed the case before the Director of Military Prosecutions and ‘it would be inappropriate for any public comment to be made about the investigation of the incident or about the progress of the DMP’s deliberations.’
Watch the full story on Dateline’s website.