The Advertiser | September 04, 2008
AUSTRALIAN troops did not use dog pens to hold four Taliban prisoners overnight, Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon says, contrary to an earlier report.
Defence has now told the Minister the enclosure used to detain the four prisoners had never been used for dogs, contrary to a report of a defence inquiry into the alleged April incident.
The report, released last week, sparked an angry reaction from Australia’s Islamic leadership who said no human being should be locked up in dog pens.
The latest advice from defence has upset Mr Fitzgibbon who said it had taken far too long for the new information to be disclosed.
“At the and of the day, it was unnecessary for me to be spending so much time defending our troops for something that wasn’t actually a reality,” he told Sky News today.
The row stemmed from allegations that Australian soldiers beat and humiliated four Taliban suspects who were captured in a raid and held overnight at a remote forward operating base.
The defence inquiry report, released last Friday, found no evidence of abuse, but said the four men had been held in pens previously used for dogs.
Mr Fitzgibbon today said he was disappointed by the claims and some of the sensational treatment of them by the media.
“All Australians I know know that our troops are not only the best fighters in the world, but the fairest fighters in the world,” he said.
“The Australian sense of fair go runs right through the Australian Defence Force.”
Defence apparently told the minister late yesterday the pens were never used to hold dogs.
The delay in information related to the way it came from the theatre of operations back to his office, Mr Fitzgibbon said.
“I did express my disappointment that it took so long to find out that indeed the idea the pens had been used for dogs wasn’t true.
“I have made it pretty clear that I expect that information to be more timely and more accurate.”
Typical bloody army. S.N.A.F.U.