Nineteen current and former soldiers face an investigation, criminal charges and being stripped of medals.
According to the Chief of the Australian Defense Force, General Angus Campbell, who announced the findings of the investigation, the soldiers would then plant weapons and radios to support false claims that the prisoners were enemies killed in action.
The multi-year investigation into the murders included alleged incidents in which new military personnel allegedly shot and killed a prisoner in order to do their first murder in a practice known as “blood”.
He said the investigation revealed “a shame and a deep betrayal of the professional standards and expectations of the Australian Defense Force”.
The unlawful killings began in 2009, General Campbell said, with the majority occurring in 2012 and 2013.
He said some people in the force had encouraged “a self-centered warrior culture.”
The announcement follows a four-year investigation by Paul Brereton, a judge who has been asked to investigate the allegations, interview more than 400 witnesses and review thousands of pages of documents.
Judge Brereton said: “When what the investigation has revealed is taken collectively, the answer to the question ‘Is there any substance to war crimes rumors by elements of the Operations Task Force? special? must unfortunately be: “Yes, there is”, “the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
The report found that none of the incidents could be categorized as questionable decisions made under pressure in the “heat of the moment”.
He recommends that General Campbell refer 36 cases to the Australian Federal Police for criminal investigation. These concern 23 incidents and involve 19 current or former members of the ADF.
“To the Afghan people, on behalf of the Australian Defense Force, I sincerely and wholeheartedly apologize for any wrongdoing committed by Australian soldiers,” said General Campbell.
He said he spoke directly to his Afghan military counterpart to express his remorse.
“Such alleged behavior has deeply disrespected the trust placed in us by the Afghan people who asked us to come to their country to help them,” General Campbell said.
“It would have devastated the lives of Afghan families and communities, causing immeasurable suffering and suffering. And that would have jeopardized our mission and the security of our Afghan partners and the coalition.
In March of this year, senior judges at the International Criminal Court gave the green light to an investigation into suspected war crimes in Afghanistan, overturning an earlier decision not to open an investigation.
While it will focus on the actions of US troops, Afghan soldiers, and Taliban fighters, it also has the ability to put the forces of other countries under surveillance.
Additional reports by AP.