The Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley has confirmed the former Afghan National Army Sergeant accused of murdering three Australian soldiers in August 2012 is in custody in Afghanistan.
General Hurley said former Sergeant Hekmatullah was apprehended by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in Pakistan.
“Overnight, he was deported to Afghanistan where he is expected to face trial for the murder of Lance Corporal Stjepan ‘Rick’ Milosevic, Sapper James Martin and Private Robert Poate during an insider attack at Patrol Base Wahab in Afghanistan,” General Hurley said.
Two other Australian soldiers were also wounded in this cowardly attack.
“We have been relentless and determined in our efforts to pursue those who have murdered and wounded our people.
“We will continue to cooperate with Afghan authorities as they prosecute the case for justice for these Australians,” General Hurley said.
Since Australia was formally notified of Hekmatullah’s capture in February, the Pakistani Government has been working to establish an appropriate transfer arrangement to return Hekmatullah to Afghanistan.
The Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been instrumental in ensuring the successful deportation to Afghanistan.
General Hurley acknowledged members of the ADF and other Australian agencies who have provided crucial support in capturing Hekmatullah.
“The Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) and the Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO) have worked closely with ISI and NDS over the past six months to facilitate Hekmatullah’s detention and deportation.
“We greatly appreciate their efforts to date and we will continue to cooperate with Afghan authorities.”
Defence has spoken to the fallen soldiers’ families to inform them of Hekmatullah’s capture.
“This news comes at a particularly difficult time for the families so close to the anniversary of the incident.
“I extend my deepest sympathy to them, and we will continue to support them as they come to terms with this latest development,” General Hurley said.
“Hekmatullah’s capture draws a line under the four insider attacks on Australian personnel.
“Those responsible for the deaths of seven Australian soldiers and who wounded another 10 have been captured or killed and no longer pose a threat to ADF personnel.”
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999