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Green: Case remains for Afghan inquiry

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 27/03/2017
James Shaw © Hannah Peters/Getty Images James Shaw

The case remains for an independent inquiry into allegations of possible war crimes committed by New Zealand SAS forces despite the Defence Force presenting evidence it says refutes the claims, the Green Party says.

Defence Force chief Lieutenant General Tim Keating detailed declassified aspects of the August 2010 Afghanistan operation in a media conference on Monday to clear up what the NZDF says are inaccurate claims in the book Hit and Run by war correspondent Jon Stephenson and investigative reporter Nicky Hager.

But Green Party co-leader James Shaw says the briefing didn't clarify why there are so many different accounts of what happened.

The book claims elite Kiwi forces were responsible for six civilian deaths in the Operation in Naik and Khak Khuday Dad in retaliation for the death of Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell in a roadside bomb explosion weeks earlier.

But Lt Gen Keating says New Zealand forces never visited those villages and instead carried out an operation on nearby Tirgiran village killing nine insurgents.

He has admitted it's possible civilians were killed when a helicopter gun misfired and rounds fell short, hitting a building where known insurgents and possible civilians were.

Mr Shaw said an independent inquiry would get to the truth of the matter.

"We still do not know why the former minister of defence, a former NZ Special Air Service soldier and the NZDF have different accounts of what happened during this operation, nor do we know for certain who was killed and why," he said.

"There are too many unanswered questions for this to be put to bed. The Prime Minister has a responsibility to New Zealanders to get to the bottom of this," Mr Shaw said.

Prime Minister Bill English has not ruled out an independent inquiry, but said he would not be rushed into making a decision.

Labour leader Andrew Little has also stood by his calls for an inquiry.

For the sake of the reputation of the NZDF and New Zealand there needs to be an inquiry, he told RNZ.

NZ First leader Winston Peters has also called for an inquiry, while United Future leader Peter Dunne last week indicated the case for an inquiry "is strengthening".

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