Australia expresses ‘sorrow’ after Afghan army deserter Hekmatullah, who killed three ADF soldiers, set free | Australian military

The Australian authorities has expressed “sorrow” after a former Afghan soldier convicted of murdering three Australian troopers in Afghanistan was launched from custody in Qatar.

Hekmatullah was convicted of murdering three Australian troopers – Corporal Stjepan Milosevic, Private Robert Poate and Sapper James Martin – as they performed playing cards at a patrol base north of Tarin Kowt in August 2012.

The Australian newspaper studies that Hekmatullah was launched from home arrest in Qatar, quickly after the autumn of Kabul to the Taliban in August, and that he’s presumed to have returned to Afghanistan.

Hekmatullah had been in Qatar since being transferred from Afghanistan in September final 12 months. When contacted for remark, an Australian authorities spokesperson confirmed Hekmatullah’s launch.

“The Australian government is aware that that Afghan army deserter Hekmatullah, who murdered three off-duty Australians, has been released from custody,” the spokesperson stated in a press release on Monday.

“His whereabouts cannot be verified.”

It is known Australian army representatives are in common contact with the Milosevic, Martin and Poate households and had alerted them to this chance.

Australian soldiers Sapper James Martin, Lance Corporal Stjepan Milosevic and Private Robert were killed as they played cards at a patrol base in Afghanistan in August 2012.
Australian troopers Sapper James Martin, Lance Corporal Stjepan Milosevic and Private Robert have been killed as they performed playing cards at a patrol base in Afghanistan in August 2012. Photograph: Australian defence power

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, stated final 12 months that the Australian authorities would proceed to push “as hard as we can” for Hekmatullah’s continued detention, after studies he may very well be launched on account of US-backed peace negotiations between the Afghan authorities and the Taliban.

On Monday the federal government spokesperson stated Australia’s place “has always been that Hekmatullah should serve a just and proportionate sentence, appropriate to his crimes, and not be granted early release or pardon”.

“We made repeated representations over a long period advocating this position to relevant governments,” the spokesperson stated.

“We share the sorrow of Australians at this outcome and again offer our condolences to the families and the loved ones of our three fallen soldiers.”

On Monday 4 authorities departments – together with Defence and Home Affairs – shall be questioned on the first listening to of the Senate inquiry into Australia’s engagement in Afghanistan, together with the military technique and the dealing with of this 12 months’s withdrawal.

In written accounts which are set to be supplied to the inquiry, Afghans who have utilized for Australian humanitarian visas have stated they’re dwelling in worry because the Taliban are “hunting us down like animals”.

The Senate’s international affairs, defence and commerce references committee is investigating how the Australian authorities ought to reply to the newest developments in Afghanistan, after the autumn of the nation to Taliban in August.

Hekmatullah went on the run after the deadly assault on the Australian troopers however was captured in Pakistan in February 2013 – about six months later – after which dropped at trial in Afghanistan.

He was transferred from Afghanistan to Qatar on 10 September 2020, in a transfer authorities officers stated on the time was a part of “a compromise organised by the US government with the government of Qatar to enable the commencement of the Afghanistan peace negotiations”.

Officials advised an estimates listening to final 12 months that there had been “a continuing series of interventions” by Morrison, ministers Marise Payne and Linda Reynolds, and officers to the governments of Qatar, the US and Afghanistan to make sure they understood the energy of feeling in Australia that Hekmatullah ought to by no means be launched.

The then US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, stated on the time that the discharge of prisoners was “unpopular” however it might result in a “reduction of violence and direct talks resulting in a peace agreement and an end to the war” in Afghanistan.

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