No more witnesses for war crime inquiry

Federal police are not seeking any more witnesses for its inquiry into alleged war crimes by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.

The Taliban’s takeover of the country has impeded investigations with no contact between the Australian Federal Police and the new Afghan government or its police forces.

The credibility of Afghan witnesses may also become a problem for the prosecutors if criminal charges are pursued following the inquiry, AFP deputy commissioner of investigations Ian McCartney warns.

The AFP is still undertaking a small number investigations despite the bulk of the work into the Brereton inquiry report’s war crimes allegations being taken over by the independent Office of the Special Investigator.

“(The investigations) are still ongoing and nearing completion and we are not seeking anymore witnesses,” Mr McCartney told a Senate inquiry on Monday.

The Senate committee was told in October the Taliban taking control of the country had hamstrung investigations into the war crime allegations.

Accessing people, evidence and places in the country became “extremely difficult, if not … impossible”, the head of the Office of the Special Investigator said.

The Brereton report alleges 39 Afghans were murdered by Australian special forces in 23 incidents that may constitute war crimes.

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