24 Mar 2017

Family of killed soldier back Defence Force

From Checkpoint, 5:15 pm on 24 March 2017

The family of a soldier killed in Afghanisation in 2010 are unhappy a new book, Hit & Run, has brought him back into the headlines.

Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell, 28, from Feilding, died in Bamiyan after insurgents attacked Bamiyan Provincial Reconstruction Team personnel while they were on a routine patrol in the province.  Three others - two crew and a translator - were injured.

Hit & Run, by investigative journalists Jon Stephenson and Nicky Hager, accuses the SAS of leading an attack about three weeks later, in which they say six civilians died and 15 others were injured.

A three-year-old girl, Fatima, is said to be one of the victims.

The NZDF has said it stands by a statement that allegations of civilian deaths were unfounded.

Mr O'Donnell's father, Mark, told Checkpoint with John Campbell the book's allegations annoyed and distressed the family.

"Tim's death was, and still is, a massive shock to his family and friends and they don't need it to be dragged up in a sensationalised article like this ... at a time when the family believed he was at last out of the public arena. 

"If the allegations are in any way accurate, we are confused and upset as to why the evidence was not presented to the appropriate authorities as pure evidence."

The family believed the book was a money-making venture and blackened the reputations of courageous defence personnel, Mr O'Donnell said. 

His son's patrol was not there as combatants. They were killed by a bomb at the end of a long day, he said. 

"No-one wrote a book demanding answers and yelling war crimes."