Brereton war crimes investigations start still months away: Chris Moraitis

An investigation into war crime allegations committed by Australian Defence Force personnel won't begin for months, according to OSI Director-General Chris Moraitis. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
An investigation into war crime allegations committed by Australian Defence Force personnel won't begin for months, according to OSI Director-General Chris Moraitis. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

The office charged with investigating shocking allegations of war crimes committed by Defence personnel has admitted a start is still months away.

The Office of Special Investigations was established late last year and began working on an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by the Australian Defence Force, as detailed in the Brereton report.

The office's Director-General, and former department secretary, Chris Moraitis told Senate estimates it was still in the process of hiring the appropriate team to handle the task.

"[We're] in the process of engaging investigators and we're going to do that in the next one, two, three months," Mr Moraitis said.

"That involves them being sworn in as special members of the [Australian Federal Police] and involves at least three weeks [of] induction in preparation, and involves us also doing a few other things.

"So I wouldn't see us commencing investigations for at least a couple of months."

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Mr Moraitis outlined it had already seconded staff from the Home Affairs and Attorney-General's Department along with federal police but would look to engage investigation specialists from state and territory police to add to the current team of 19.

Up to 75 investigators are expected to join the team once recruiting begins but Mr Moraitis conceded finding people with war crime investigation experience had proved difficult.

"No one's had much experience of doing war crimes investigations," Mr Moraitis said.

"I've chosen individuals who have good policy skills, have experienced things like, for example, criminal law, worked in criminal legal policy, various task forces.

"Our view is that the Australian criminal system is more than robust to deal with this."

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This story Brereton war crimes investigations still months off first appeared on The Canberra Times.