Afghan soldier who killed 3 Australians released by Qatar

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — An Afghan army deserter who murdered three Australian soldiers had been released from custody in Qatar and his whereabouts were not known, officials said on Monday.

The soldier known as Hekmatullah fled after shooting dead the Australian soldiers and wounding two others on a base in 2012 and was sentenced to death in 2013.

“The government’s position has always been that Hekmatullah should serve a just and proportionate sentence, appropriate to his crimes, and not be granted early release or pardon,” an Australian government statement said.

Defense Force Chief Gen. Angus Campbell told a Senate committee the families of the soldiers were notified of Hekmatullah’s release.

Hugh Jeffrey, a Defense Department international policy expert, told the committee Australia discovered Hekmatullah had been released “from Qatar through highly sensitive intelligence.” Jeffrey did not know the circumstances of the release.

The Qatari government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hekmatullah had been transferred from Afghanistan to Qatar in September last year in a deal brokered by the United States ahead of peace talks between Afghanistan and the Taliban.

The energy-rich Arabian nation has been the site of negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban and has hosted an office for the group that now controls Afghanistan.

Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Related Categories:

Asia News | Australia News | World News

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up