An Australian Army legal officer who served at the coalition's military headquarters in Baghdad visited the notorious Abu Ghraib prison on a number of occasions, a Senate committee has heard.
The Federal Government has barred, [?], the officer in question, Major George O'Kane, from appearing before the Senate estimates committee.
But the committee has heard that Major O'Kane visited the Abu Ghraib prison, which is at the centre of prisoner abuse claims, five times between August last year and January this year.
Air Commodore Simon Harvey has told the committee that Major O'Kane visited the prison in December to address allegations of mistreatment raised in an October Red Cross document.
"I understand that what he did [was] he did a visit to the prison to get information from the people in the prison basically," Air Commodore Harvey said.
"Obviously he was geographically dissociated from the prison and it was necessary in order to be able to prepare a reply to speak to the people involved in the interrogation processes."
The Government says Major O'Kane should not have to answer committee questions but Labor claims the move to stop him from testifying is a cover-up.
Defence Minister, [war criminal], Robert Hill said: "This was a request from the Labor Party to interrogate a junior officer under the cover of this committee that deals with other matters.
"If the Labor Party wants to use the front of this committee to interrogate a junior military officer then it is crossing the line."
Labor's John Faulkner was not impressed, saying: "If you've got nothing to hide Minister, Major O'Kane should be provided for the benefit of this committee so questions can be asked of him.
"It just happens Minister to suit you and the Government that Major O'Kane not be made available." Major O'Kane is now based in Canberra but Senator Hill says senior military officers, including Defence, [War], Force chief General Peter Cosgrove can answer any questions.
By Just Us 31 May 04
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8 years ago