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Australian soldier rejects claims Afghan prisoner was executed because he didn’t fit in a helicopter

Ex-special forces commando hits back at ‘outrageous and false’ allegations his platoon murdered an Afghan prisoner because there wasn’t enough room on a helicopter

  • Australian soldier hit back at allegations of misconduct within his former platoon
  • US Marine claimed Aussie soldiers killed an unarmed Afghan prisoner in 2012
  • But platoon commander said that never happened and protocols were in place 
  • He disputed the US Marine’s claims that he heard a gunshot from a helicopter 

A former Australian commando has rejected ‘outrageous’ allegations that his platoon executed an Afghan prisoner because there wasn’t enough seats on a helicopter.

Heston Russell, 34, a ex-special forces platoon commander, said the claims from in an ABC report last week were completely false and damaging to the mental health of his soldiers.

In an interview with the ABC, a US Marine who worked closely with Australian soldiers in Afghanistan said he witnessed the murder of an unarmed civilian in 2012.

Heston Russell, 34, who served in the Australian Army from 2003 to 2019 and worked his way up to a platoon commander, said the allegations were completely false

Mr Russell (pictured) said he vehemently denied the allegations, and said he would support a full and thorough investigation into how his squad conducted themselves.

Mr Russell (pictured) said he vehemently denied the allegations, and said he would support a full and thorough investigation into how his squad conducted themselves. 

The Marine said seven prisoners had been captured but there was only room to fit six on an extraction helicopter, and that one of the men was shot dead to solve the problem.

Mr Russell told The Daily Telegraph he vehemently denied the allegations, and said he would support a full and thorough investigation into how his squad conducted themselves.    

He disputed the claims made by the US Marine, and said he first heard of the incident when the ABC article about his November Platoon was published.

‘The Marine’s accusation is based on him hearing a pop”through his communication system. The helicopter was flying around, not hovering, as you would not hover for fear of being shot down,’ he said.

‘Hearing a pop at that height at that time with that level of combat noise and assuming that meant we had executed someone is outrageous and false.’ 

The Marine told ABC News he was listening in via radio when the pilot explained there wasn’t enough room to fit everybody.

‘You just heard this silence and then we heard a pop. And then they said, “OK, we have six prisoners”,’ he said.

Mr Russell said he has no recollection of the day in question, but was certain nothing like the incident had ever happened

Mr Russell said he has no recollection of the day in question, but was certain nothing like the incident had ever happened

‘So it was pretty apparent to everybody involved in that mission that they had just killed a prisoner that we had just watched them catch and hogtie.’

Mr Russell, who served in the Australian Army from 2003 to 2019, said he has no recollection of the day in question, but was certain nothing like that ever happened.

He said that there were several times when more prisoners were captured than they were able to transport.

In those rare circumstances, which he claims happened about five times during his deployment, the platoon had a difficult decision to make.

They would assess how valuable each person was and how much information and intel they could potentially be carrying.

The person deemed least valuable would be left behind with the Afghan Partner Forces.

The chosen prisoner would have their masks and earmuffs removed.

On no occasion, Mr Russell said, were those individuals killed because they weren’t of any use to soldiers.

An ABC spokesperson told the publication they stood by the story printed, and said it was not clear Mr Russell was even present on the date their source was referring to.

Mr Russell said the claims made by the US Marine simply didn't stack up, and reminded the public that he had no actual evidence

Mr Russell said the claims made by the US Marine simply didn’t stack up, and reminded the public that he had no actual evidence



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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