28 Sep 2010

Australian soldiers deny Afghan raid charges

6:04 am on 28 September 2010

Two of the three Australian soldiers being prosecuted over a deadly raid in Afghanistan have denied the charges against them.

The soldiers have been charged - one with manslaughter - over a raid in in February 2009 in which six people were killed. Five of those who died were children.

It's alleged the wrong house was attacked Australian Special Operations Task Group raid on a residential compound in Uruzgan province, where a Taliban leader was believed to be hiding.

Two other children and two adults were also wounded.

The ABC reports two of the soldiers issued a statement, saying they were forced to make split-second decisions when they came under fire.

They say when the facts of the battle become public, it will be clear decisions they took in "truly awful circumstances" will be vindicated.

The soldiers are to be charged with various service offences, including manslaughter, dangerous conduct, failing to comply with a lawful general order and prejudicial conduct.

The Office of the Director of Military Prosecutions, which is charging the men, is an independent body that operates outside the Australian Defence Force (ADF) chain of command.

After carrying out its own operational investigation, the ADF referred the incident to the Director of Military Prosecutions.

It is unclear when the charges will be heard.