Natalie Barr’s unhinged war crime question

Sunrise host Natalie Barr has confronted a war veteran after referring senior Australian armed forces leaders to the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes committed in Afghanistan.

Military attorney and veteran, Glenn Kolomeitz, co-signed the reference with Senator Jacqui Lambie.

The reference to The Hague asked the criminal court to examine the country’s commanders-in-chief ‘through the lens of command responsibility’.

The pair allege senior commanders have avoided investigating alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.

On Wednesday morning, Barr asked Kolomeitz whether the country had the right to judge what soldiers did abroad.

‘I have to ask you. This is a question I get every time we discuss this general issue,” she said.

“We trained these people to kill, and we trained them to operate in war situations. None of us as citizens have any idea what that’s like and we can’t judge them when they go to war there. What do you say to that?’

Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie (left) and Mr. Kolomeitz (right) have asked the International Criminal Court in The Hague to investigate senior ranks in the defense force for alleged war crimes

Mr. Kolomeitz was firm in his position that defense personnel, regardless of rank, should be investigated if they have committed or covered up a criminal offence.

“I’ve worked with these guys a few times, and frankly they are great advocates for our country, but if they’ve done something wrong they should be properly investigated and prosecuted vigorously. That’s the reality,” he said.

“You can’t ignore the commanders. You vigorously investigate and prosecute those who have done wrong, including those with command responsibility.”

The Sunrise presenter asked whether the chief of the armed forces, Angus Campbell, should also be investigated.

Mr. Kolomeitz replied, “Any joint task force 633 commander in that position during the period of the investigation.”

The military lawyer drafted the letter to be sent to the International Criminal Court.

“If Australia does nothing about it, the ICC may be able to assume jurisdiction over the higher command and exclude the higher command investigation from the ongoing investigation into subordinate soldiers,” he said.

The 2020 Brereton report found ‘credible’ evidence that 25 current or former Australian SAS soldiers unlawfully killed 39 Afghan civilians and prisoners between 2005 and 2016.

The report recommends taking administrative action against ADF personnel if there is credible evidence of wrongdoing, but not enough for a criminal conviction.

It ruled that senior commanders were not criminally guilty of the alleged crimes.

In an emotional speech yesterday, Senator Lambie – a former ADF member – said the leadership has not been held accountable for their actions.

Senator Lambie denounced ADF leadership Tuesday in the Senate for 'throwing their diggers under the bus'

Senator Lambie denounced ADF leadership Tuesday in the Senate for ‘throwing their diggers under the bus’

“No doubt the administration hopes this will all just go away,” she told the Senate on Tuesday.

“They hope Australians will forget that when alleged war crimes in Afghanistan were investigated, our commanders-in-chief were given free passage while our diggers were thrown under the bus.

‘Well, we won’t forget that. I will not forget. Lest we forget.

“There is a culture of cover-up at the highest levels of the Australian Defense Force. It’s the ultimate boys’ club.’

An Office of the Special Investigator has been established to deal with potential criminal cases raised in the ADF Inspector General’s Investigative Report in Afghanistan, which looks at alleged war crimes committed between 2005 and 2016.

She said the referral was a last resort.

“Frankly, I’m embarrassed that Australia is in this situation, so I’m helping the government today,” Senator Lambie said.

“I’m giving you a second chance to put this right and fix this mess.

“The high command must be held accountable.”

She tried to introduce the reference to The Hague in parliament, but the government, the opposition and the Greens said they would like to see the documents before making a decision.