Classified US Defence Department documents leaked to the WikiLeaks website this week suggest the Australian Defence Force covered up the killing of an Afghan policeman by Australian troops.
Buried among the 90,000 intelligence documents is a log entry about the killing of an Afghan man by an Australian mentoring and reconstruction taskforce (MRTF) patrol in the southern province of Oruzgan in December 2008.
The initial report says a suspected suicide bomber approached the patrol and was shot dead. The report was amended later in the day to show the man was a policeman, was not carrying explosives of any kind and that he was twice ordered to stop before he was shot. The Chief of the Defence Force, Angus Houston, said in a statement five months later that the man had a ”suspicious wire leading across his body”, and he was ordered twice through an interpreter to stop.
But Air Chief Marshal Houston did not disclose in the statement that the man was a police officer, or that he was not carrying explosives.
”A review of the operational circumstances found that the man behaved and appeared in a manner that was consistent with intelligence reporting of a suicide bomber that was planning an attack,” Air Chief Marshal Houston said.
”The MRTF patrol had been involved in a combat operation the previous day and an [improvised explosive device] had exploded in the vicinity of the patrol. The review officer found that the MRTF patrol had acted appropriately, in accordance with the threat and within their rules of engagement.
”I stress, however, that I regard the completion of these inquiries as a high priority and I assure you that I will make the findings available to you soon as I can.”