Home' Army News : October 28th 2010 Contents NEWS 3
Army October 28, 2010
CA Lt-Gen Ken Gillespie has called
on ADF members to respect the legal
process following the announcement of
charges to be laid against three SOTG
members as a result of their actions in
Afghanistan early last year.
Six Afghan civilians were killed and up
to four injured as a result of a compound
clearance operation on February 12, 2009.
Charges were brought by Director
Military Prosecutions Brig Lyn McDade
after she had considered evidence pre-
sented by the ADF Investigative Service.
The announcement has provoked
widespread discussion in the media and
within the ranks of serving and former
Former members of the ADF have
been critical of both the decision and Brig
McDade and launched a petition against
the charging of the soldiers.
"Many will have views about whether
or not charges should have been brought,"
Lt-Gen Gillespie said in a message to
"Many may hope that those who have
been charged will be cleared. Some, armed
with ill-informed opinions and good
intentions, have made public comment in
response to the media and public interest.
"We must not be party to the pressures
being applied by individuals external to
our organisation, or by the vocal individu-
als within our organisation.
"The Army is simply not above the law."
Lt-Gen Gillespie said the Director of
Military Prosecutions had acted in accord-
ance with her duty to prosecute service
offences, taking action after considerable
deliberation and incorporating the opin-
ions of senior officers.
"In this regard, the Director of Military
Prosecutions has acted in an independent
and deliberative way as she is required to
do by law," he said.
"This is no different from how her
civilian Commonwealth and state/territory
Directors of Public Prosecutions function.
"To undertake any course of action
that is disrespectful, and not supportive,
of this process would be to undermine the
integrity of the military justice system."
CA asked commanders to be mindful
of several important matters.
"First and foremost, it is complete-
ly inappropriate, and more importantly,
unlawful, to engage in any conduct that
might influence the outcome of the charg-
es," he said. "This includes public com-
ment, in any capacity, about the merits of
the charges; or by vilifying the prosecu-
tor; or by otherwise influencing, directly
or indirectly, the course of the prosecution
including by joining in petitions.
"This is not about going outside the
chain of command or making public com-
ment about an issue; it is about under-
mining the integrity of our military jus-
tice system and potentially about denying
proper legal process to our soldiers."
Lt-Gen Gillespie said publicly discuss-
ing the merits or vilifying either party for
bringing or defending the proceedings
may prejudice the discipline of, or bring
discredit on, the ADF, which may amount
to an offence under Section 60 of the
Defence Force Discipline Act 1982 and
which carries a maximum punishment of
three months' imprisonment. "Certainly,
once a service tribunal is convened, such
conduct may amount to contempt. Under
section 89 of the Defence Act 1903 and
section 53 of the Defence Force Discipline
Act 1982 this is a serious offence punish-
able by up to six months' imprisonment,"
He reiterated these were not novel pro-
visions and did not herald any new reality
in law. They were no different from provi-
sions covering contempt of court in the
Lt-Gen Gillespie added that what-
ever views members of the service may
hold could only be based on an imperfect
understanding of the evidence.
"None of us, including me, know all
of the evidence the Director of Military
Prosecutions has considered in deciding to
lay the charges," he said.
Lt-Gen Gillespie said the fact that
charges had been preferred did not mean
the members would be convicted.
"The charges will be heard by courts
martial, constituted by service personnel
who understand the exigencies of the cir-
cumstances with which soldiers on opera-
tions can be confronted," he said.
CA said the soldiers were receiving the
full support of the Army through the accu-
sation and trials process.
"I ask that you remain acutely aware
of these matters in exercising your com-
mand responsibilities," he said.
"Army has a responsibility to protect
the integrity and the professionalism and
to respect the legal obligations inherent in
Army not above law: CA
Upholding legal process: CA Lt-Gen Ken Gillespie has urged
service personnel to tread carefully over the military charges
brought against four SOTG members.
Photo by Sgt Brent Tero
drops in for a chat
FEDERAL Opposition Leader Tony
Abbott -- the third senior politician to
visit the Australian contingent in Tarin
Kot in as many weeks -- says, while
there's bipartisan support for the
Afghanistan commitment, it doesn't
mean that support for the mission
can't be improved.
Mr Abbott told soldiers there was
'no finer way' and 'no tougher way' to
serve their country than to be on active
service in the armed forces.
"I am very conscious of the fact that
the decisions we make as politicians
have tremendous consequences for you
as men and women of the Australian
Army," he said.
"So it is very important that we come
here for as long a time as we realisti-
cally can and try to learn from you, try
to understand what's happening in this
place so the decisions that we ultimately
make can be as responsible and as well-
informed by the realities on the ground
as we can possibly make them."
Mr Abbott invited members of the
ADF to tell him of any improvements
that could be made.
"I can't promise that what you say to
me will necessarily translate into action
because I'm leader of an opposition, I'm
not leader of a government," he said.
"Nevertheless, oppositions have some
influence and, if you don't tell us, we
can't improve the support we give you."
Mr Abbott added that, while he was
proud to represent an electorate and lead
a political party, he stood "in humble
awe of those who don't just risk their
reputations, they put their lives on the
line every day for our country".
Greetings: Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is welcomed to 'Poppys' by WO1
Narelle Scott. Poppys, the recreation hut at Multinational Base Tarin Kot, is
dedicated to Tpr David 'Poppy' Pearce who was killed when his ASLAV was
struck by an IED in October 2007.
Photo by Cpl Raymond Vance
Links Archive October 14th 2010 November 11th 2010 Navigation Previous Page Next Page