Defence chief confronted over controversial Afghanistan raid

The Defence Force has been confronted over serious allegations of misconduct during a 2004 raid in Afghanistan.

Defence Chief Tim Keating said the allegations are being investigated after questioning from media on Thursday. He was visiting Parliament to brief politicians on the Defence budget.

The Defence Force later issued a statement saying an investigation has not been launched and the Defence Force will respond publically when all the information has been gathered.

A Stuff investigation alleges New Zealand troopers provoked a fire fight with Taliban, later returning to the village with six dead fighters attached to their front of their vehicles. It alleged troopers kicked in doors of villagers and cuffed innocent civilians during the 2004 SAS raid.

The official story is that an SAS patrol was ambushed by Taliban fighters. Willie Apiata's vehicle was hit by a rocket, seriously injuring his commander.

Mr Apiata carried him through enemy fire to get medical assistance. He rearmed and went back to successfully fend off the attack, and his heroism earned him a Victoria Cross.

Mr Keating says the Defence is following a process and he will not conduct a trial in the media.

"We should be held account for any allegations that are made, but we should be held account that we follow a lawful process to deal with those allegations."

"I have every confidence in the training we give our people, which is not only military skills but cultural skills. They serve New Zealand's interests loyally and honourably."

Mr Keating leaves the Defence Force Chief office in two weeks.


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