SAS soldier cleared of war crimes despite cutting hands off 'Taliban fighters'

SAS soldier cleared of war crimes despite cutting hands off 'two dead Taliban fighters'

An Australian solider has been cleared of war crimes (Stock image)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

An Australian SAS soldier has been cleared of war crimes, despite cutting the hands off two suspected Taliban fighters.

The soldier cut the hands off the fighters in 2013 whilst working in Afghanistan's Zabul province, on a combined operation with the Afghan national security service and the Australian Special Operations Task Group.

Four suspected insurgents were killed in the clash although the target of the operation, a senior insurgent commander known to Australian troops as Rapier, according to ABC.

Two of the bodies were searched by an SAS corporal and a Makarov pistol was discovered, which led to the soldier cutting the hands off them using a surgical scalpel.

SAS Captain Andrew Hastie then told other soldiers not to cut off any other hands from bodies and reported the issue to his commanding officer.

Mutilation of bodies is a violation of the laws of war and the case was handed to the Australian Federal Police to investigate.

Fingerprint collection and eye scans are supposed to take place on all dead suspected Taliban fighters when possible by the Australian army.

The evidence given by the soldier was published by the media after a defence document was leaked. He reportedly said that he removed the hands of the fighters due to time restraints on gaining biometric material.

The Australian Federal Police has announced that its investigation is complete but added "it would be inappropriate for the AFP to comment further", the BBC reported.