No exonerations from war crimes probe: Chris Moraitis

Former Attorney-General's Department secretary Chris Moraitis. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Former Attorney-General's Department secretary Chris Moraitis. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

None of the current and former ADF personnel who faced adverse administrative action by the Defence department have been exonerated by the Office of the Special Investigator, senators heard in estimates hearings on Monday.

Chris Moraitis, the former secretary of the Attorney-General's Department who now leads the office following up on the Brereton report on war crimes in Afghanistan, says he had recruited more than 50 investigators and intelligence analysts, but it was "way too early" to exonerate any of the 19 individuals referred to his office for further consideration in prosecution.

But he also told senators that while he was working expeditiously, it could take years before his office would be able to answer the question whether they have sufficient evidence to prosecute any of those individuals referred.

The situation in Afghanistan with the rise of the Taliban as the new government has not meant that investigations won't proceed, he reassured. Other avenues were available to them.

"My investigators are very experienced. We've chosen some pretty experienced people who've pursued a variety of challenging matters in the past, and I'm very confident I'll pursue all avenues."

Asked if Afghans would be able to give evidence in person in Australia, Mr Moraitis said it was "hard to envisage that happening".

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In August, Dutton gave an apology to individuals who faced administrative action by Defence: "If people have been wrongly accused, and they've now been cleared of that, then I do apologise for what they've been through, what their families have been through."

Mr Moraitis was also asked if the dropped administrative actions were separate from investigations in his office.

"Yes, Senator, I can absolutely confirm that. It's separate ... It's not relevant to our work."

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This story No exonerations from war crimes probe: Moraitis first appeared on The Canberra Times.