File photo of Australian PM Scott Morrison. Photograph:( AFP )
At least 55 separate incidents have been probed as part of the exhaustive four-year probe that has interviewed more than 330 witnesses
Australia on Thursday announced the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate possible war crimes committed by Australian forces in Afghanistan, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison insisting standards must be upheld.
"Serving men and women and our defense forces, both past and present, share the expectations and aspirations of the Australian people for our defense forces, and how they engage in their conduct," Morrison said.
"This requires us to deal with honest and brutal truths, where expectations and standards may not have been met."
At least 55 separate incidents have been probed as part of the exhaustive four-year probe that has interviewed more than 330 witnesses.
Australia in 2016 launched an inquiry into the conduct of the personnel of its special forces between 2005 and 2016 amid allegations by local media about the killing of unarmed men and children.
While Morrison did not reveal details of the report, which is set to be released next week, he said it will contain "difficult and hard news for Australians".
"Given the likely allegations of serious and possibly criminal misconduct, the matters raised in the inquiry must be assessed, investigated and, where allegations are substantiated, prosecuted in court," Morrison told reporters in Canberra.
Morrison said the special investigator was needed as the probe into the actions of some of Australia's military in Afghanistan was so complex that it would overwhelm and distract the country's normal criminal prosecutor.
The special prosecutor will be assisted by experienced investigators, legal counsel, and other support personnel, Morrison said.
Australia is a staunch ally of the United States and has had troops in Afghanistan since 2002.