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Soldiers protest innocence

Soldiers protest innocence

Two Australian soldiers facing various charges relating to the deaths of six Afghanis in a 2009 raid have vehemently denied the charges against them.Speaking through a statement released by…

Two Australian soldiers facing various charges relating to the deaths of six Afghanis in a 2009 raid have vehemently denied the charges against them.

Speaking through a statement released by their legal counsel, Kennedys Lawyers, two of the three accused soldiers vowed to fight the charges and clear their names.

"We will strenuously defend the charges and we look forward to the opportunity of publicly clearing our reputations, as well as the reputation of the Australian Defence Force," they said in the statement.

The Director of Military Prosecutions, Brigadier Lyn McDade, said three former members of the Special Operations Task Group have been charged with numerous offences relating to a raid in February last year which left six people dead, including five children, in Afghanistan's Uruzgan province.

Amongst the charges, one soldier is charged with manslaugher, a second with failing to comply with a lawful general order and a third is yet to be formally charged.

In their statement, two of the soldiers, whose names have not been revealed, said they were in a situation which required split-second decisions when they came under fire, describing the situation as "truly awful circumstances".

The soldiers blamed insurgents for the casualties, saying the deaths were ultimately the result of "callous and reckless" acts by an insurgent who fired at them from within a room in which women and children were sheltering.

The cases will be heard before a service tribunal early next year, with the possibility of a maximum penalty of 20 years for manslaughter.

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