15 May 2018

Special office to handle Afghan raid inquiry

10:25 pm on 15 May 2018

A special inquiry office with up to 12 staff will handle the government's investigation into allegations of civilian deaths in Afghanistan.

Investigative journalists Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson have released a book, 'Hit & Run', about the New Zealand SAS in Afghanistan.

Photo: RNZ / Hans Weston

Hit and Run authors Jon Stephenson and Nicky Hager allege six civilians were killed and 15 injured in a raid on two villages in 2010 that involved members of the New Zealand Defence Force.

Defence has always strongly denied the allegations.

Last month, Attorney-General David Parker announced an inquiry would be led by former Supreme Court judge Sir Terence Arnold and Sir Geoffrey Palmer.

Defence force chief Tim Keating said the agency had now created a special inquiry office, led by former deputy navy chief Commodore Mathew Williams.

"Administration, legal and research staff will also join the office in due course - the team is expected to consist of up to 12 staff supported by other personnel as required," Mr Keating said.

The office would be as transparent as possible.

"The public will have an informed understanding of the significant time and resources being invested in properly participating in the inquiry from the defence force," he said.

Defence planned to release official information responses about the special unit on its website.

The official inquiry was expected to take around a year to complete.