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1 News, November 21, 2018

New revelations as inquiry begins into the SAS Afghanistan raid at the centre of Hit & Run allegations

Primarily, it alleges war crimes, claiming Kiwi forces were involved with the death of six civilians and the injury of 15 others

By Simon Plumb

The inquiry into the NZSAS' controversial 2010 Afghanistan raid, Operation Burnham, has begun at the High Court in Wellington - and already there are new revelations.

Prominent Human Rights barrister Deborah Manning, who is representing former residents of the villages of Naik and Khak Khuday Dad in Afghanistan, says the New Zealand Defence Force has now identified a further 15,000 documents relevant to the inquiry - but says NZDF hasn't examined most of them yet and only a tiny portion have been provided to the inquiry.

"Previously it had been estimated at 2000 documents, but now it's far greater," Manning told the inquiry.

"There is currently 17,400 items that have been identified as relevant to this inquiry. To date NZDF have examined and catalogued 1600 of those. And 324 of those have been provided to the inquiry.

"So my understanding of that data is to date, the inquiry has received just under two per cent of relevant information identified by NZDF, and that NZDF themselves, have catalogued and examined about nine per cent of that material.

"That's quite a difference in number."

Manning's two-hour delivery was one of the first submissions in a preliminary hearing.

Over today and tomorrow, the preliminary hearing will lay out the process of how the inquiry will work - crucially, how much classified information can be publicly revealed when weighed against a number of concerns, including compromising New Zealand's national security and international relations, and, protecting the identity of certain individuals.

The inquiry has been triggered by the book Hit & Run, co-authored by investigative journalists Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson.

Released last year, the book made a number of allegations about what happened during an SAS raid in Afghanistan, in August eight years ago.

Primarily, it alleges war crimes, claiming Kiwi forces were involved with the death of six civilians and the injury of 15 others.

However, NZDF denies the allegations, saying the operation resulted in the death of nine insurgents.

Today's hearing began with the lawyer helping with the inquiry, Kristy McDonald QC, making reference to the huge amount of detail involved.

"This inquiry is likely to be the most complex ever held in New Zealand," McDonald said.

Hager, representing himself, is also making a submission today, with legal representation for co-author Stephenson and NZDF to follow.

Category: US-NATO, HR Violations - Views: 3681