David McBride in court

Labor and the Coalition voted against a Senate motion to end the prosecution of whistleblower David McBride today as the court case began in the Supreme Court of the ACT.

Greens Senator David Shoebridge moved a motion for the Senate to vote to end the prosecution of whistleblower McBride, demanding that the Attorney-General use his powers to stop the prosecution. As expected, the motion was defeated by Labor and LNP senators – “the war coalition,” as Shoebridge quipped.

David McBride was a lawyer in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) who faces up to 50 years in jail for exposing what he believed was evidence of war crimes committed by ADF personnel in Afghanistan. His superiors in the ADF ignored his revelations, and McBride then turned whistleblower and gave some of the material he had to the ABC, whose reporters later used the documents as the basis of a 2017 series on Australian war crimes titled The Afghan Files in 2017.

Since then, the ‘Brereton Report,’ published in 2020, found credible information of war crimes committed by the ADF in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016, exactly as McBride alleged.

Court case begins

Today’s proceedings were mainly focused on procedures and disclosures. The case will be heard in front of Justice David Mossop and a jury of twelve, to be empanelled later this week.

McBride is represented by leading criminal law barrister Stephen Odgers SC, well known in legal circles as the ‘King of Evidence Law’. Most members of the Judiciary have a copy of the Odgers bible ‘Uniform Evidence Law’ in front of them.

Odgers was on his feet this afternoon, arguing that McBride’s legal duty to the public overrides his military duties.

Earlier, Judge Mossop declined to censor the media’s ability to report on pre-trial submissions on ‘duty’ that were made by both parties, saying:

I think the horse has well & truly bolted,

in reference to the publicity that this case has already attracted.

As the case continues, the prosecution will no doubt do its best to keep as much of the proceedings behind closed doors as possible, citing ‘national security concerns.’

The very same ‘concerns’ that allowed war crimes to flourish unchecked, crimes for which nobody has been charged. Only the bloke who reported them has been.

Criminal trial for war crimes whistleblower begins

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