Australian authorities arrests 41-year-old former soldier

Photo: Getty Images

A former soldier has become the first serving Australian serviceman or veteran charged with murder for allegedly murdering a civilian while on deployment in Afghanistan, a historic incident that has renewed focus on Canberra's record in the conflict.

According to a four-year investigation released in 2020, Australian special forces allegedly killed 39 unarmed prisoners and civilians in Afghanistan, with senior commandos allegedly pressuring junior soldiers to kill helpless prisoners in order to "blood" them for fight.

The 41-year-old man is expected to be prosecuted in an Australian court with one count of war crime murder, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, according to the Australian Federal Police.

It is the first time under Australian law that such a charge would be brought against a current or former member of the defense force.

Following the report's recommendations, 19 current and former members of Australia's military were sent to a special investigator to evaluate if there was enough evidence to prosecute.

As Western-backed troops drove the Islamic militants from power in 2001, Australia was part of a NATO-led multinational army that trained Afghan security forces and fought the Taliban for two decades.

Almost 39,000 Australian troops fought in Afghanistan, suffering 41 deaths.