Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is a NZME. News Service journalist based in Auckland.

Army officer could face court martial over booby-trap

File photo / AP
File photo / AP

An army officer who served in Afghanistan could face a court martial over the booby-trapping of a cache of explosive components which allegedly put others in danger.

The officer, whose name and rank are suppressed, appeared for a summary trial before disciplinary officer Brigadier Tim Gall at Trentham today.

Brigadier Gall found there was a prima facie case to answer and referred the matter to the Director of Military Prosecutions. That means the matter could be heard by a court martial.

Heavy suppressions are in place around the case, which was heard at the Joint Forces New Zealand headquarters in Trentham, Upper Hutt.

The army officer is facing two charges in relation to an incident last July in Afghanistan where a cache of improvised explosive device components was booby trapped.

He has been charged with being party to inciting another officer - whose details have also been suppressed - to commit a civil offence by putting an explosive device in place that risked the safety of others, specifically by booby trapping the cache.

A second charge of negligence in performing his duty has also been brought against him in relation to the incident. He has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Media were permitted to report the arraignment and the outcome, but were excluded from hearing any evidence. Eight witnesses were expected to be called this afternoon.

Under the law, if a disciplinary officer is satisfied a prima facie case has been established, they must consider whether they have sufficient powers of punishment in relation to the charge, and whether they can act as disciplinary officer.

If they considered they did not, they must remand the accused for trial by court martial and refer the charge to the Director of Military Prosecutions.

Brigadier Gall now has seven days to refer relevant documents, including a transcript of today's hearings, to the director.

He suppressed the accused officer's details because identifying him would likely cause extreme stress, in addition to the stress he had already suffered in the service of his country.

The details of the second officer involved in the incident have been suppressed to prevent identification of the accused.

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 21 Dec 2014 20:08:07 Processing Time: 577ms