SHOCKING pictures purportedly show an Australian SAS trooper drinking beer from a dead Taliban fighter's prosthetic leg in Afghanistan.
They emerged after an inquiry revealed war crimes allegations against 19 Aussie soldiers who are accused of killing and maiming civilians.
Reports two years ago claimed a prosthetic leg brought back as a trophy from Afghanistan was used as a drinking vessel at SAS headquarters in Perth.
Now photos published by The Guardian purport to show the same leg shortly after it was taken from a Taliban fighter killed in a special forces raid in Uruzgan province in 2009.
One allegedly shows a senior SAS soldier – who is still serving – downing beer from the false limb. Another shows two other servicemen dancing with it.
The pictures were allegedly taken at an unofficial bar known as the Fat Lady’s Arms inside Australia’s special forces base in Tarin Kowt.
The leg travelled with the SASR 2 squadron at all times, one former trooper told The Guardian.
He said: “Wherever the Fat Lady’s Arms was set up, then that’s where the leg was kept and used occasionally for drinking out of.”
Later the leg was mounted on a wooden plaque under the heading Das Boot, alongside an Iron Cross – a medal worn in Nazi Germany.
The soldier claimed this was tolerated by senior commanders, who would occasionally visit the bar.
And some commanders are alleged to have joined in sculling with the leg after it was returned to Perth HQ.
Taking a trophy from a battlefield can constitute a war crime, lawyers said.
The leg is not mentioned in last month's redacted report on alleged war crimes by Justice Paul Brereton.
But it does mention the Fat Lady's Arms, saying it was resupplied with booze despite being unauthorised.
The report said there was “the toleration, acceptance and participation in a widespread disregard for behavioural norms: such as drinking on operations, the Fat Lady’s Arms, and lax standards of dress, personal hygiene and behaviour – and not only on operations – which would not have been tolerated elsewhere in Army”.
Australia's Department of Defence said: “Where there is information provided to Defence not addressed as part of the Afghanistan Inquiry, these matters will be investigated thoroughly and acted on.
“It is critical that all matters are considered carefully, and any actions are undertaken according to the ADF’s longstanding and well-established processes, ensuring the rights of individuals to due process and fair hearing are protected.”
'WAR CRIMES' PROBE
The inquiry recommended 19 soldiers be investigated by federal police over the alleged murder of 39 prisoners and civilians and the alleged cruel treatment of two others.
Troopers are said to have killed farm workers, and slit the throats of two 14-year-old boys suspected of being Taliban sympathisers.
Senior commandos also forced junior soldiers to kill defenceless captives to "blood" them for combat, it is claimed.
Meanwhile disturbing a video shows an SAS commando shooting an unarmed man as he cowered in a field clutching prayer beads.
It was described as a "straight-up execution".
Nine soldiers took their own lives in a three-week period in Australia – although there is no suggestion they were suspected of war crimes.
The bombshell allegations have been seized upon by the Chinese government amid a tense trade stand-off with Australia.
Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian sparked outrage yesterday when he posted a mocked-up image of a man dressed as an Australian soldier holding a bloody knife to an Afghan child’s throat.
Aussie prime minister Scott Morrison called the tweet “repugnant” and demanded an apology from Beijing.
Instead China issued a blistering response today accusing Mr Morrison of “overreacting”.
The Chinese embassy in Canberra said: “We would like to further stress the following: the rage and roar of some Australian politicians and media is nothing but misreading of and over-reaction to Mr Zhao’s tweet.
“The accusations made are simply to serve two purposes. One is to deflect public attention from the horrible atrocities by certain Australian soldiers.
"The other is to blame China for the worsening of bilateral ties. There may be another attempt to stoke domestic nationalism.”
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