Subject: SAS soldier on corpse charge

The Advertiser

April 17, 2003 Thursday

SAS soldier on corpse charge

By MARK PHILLIPS in Canberra

AN elite Australian special forces soldier will face a military court over a charge of kicking the corpse of a militia member during peacekeeping in East Timor.

The soldier, a former senior member of the Special Air Service now posted elsewhere in the special forces, could be fined, dismissed or imprisoned if found guilty.

The charge arose out of an ambush of Australian soldiers near Suai in October 1999, which left two East Timorese militia dead and two Australians wounded.

Another soldier has been counselled for workplace and gender harassment while serving in Dili at the same time.

After a 2 1/2 year investigation, however, 17 other allegations against more than a dozen Australian troops - including one of unlawful killing - have been dropped, although four of them have led to changes in the way the army deals with prisoners.

Many of the allegations related to the treatment and interrogation of captured militia members.

The Chief of the Army, Lieutenant General Peter Leahy, said yesterday no breaches of the Geneva Convention had been committed by Australian soldiers serving as part of the UN Interfet peacekeeping force in 1999.

Convention to interrogate people . . . Some of that meant that they were treated in a robust manner, but all of the time they were treated properly and correctly under the Geneva Convention," he said.

General Leahy pledged the charge of mistreating a corpse would be dealt with openly by a military magistrate.

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