Army apologises to former soldier

The Army has said sorry to a former soldier who was court martialled and cleared of any blame for the death of his best mate in East Timor in 2000.

The Army has apologised to a former soldier who was blamed for the death of a fellow soldier who was accidentally shot dead in East Timor in 2000.

Trooper Marcus Saltmarsh, whose case was taken up by Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie, faced a court martial which found he had no case to answer and acquitted him of two charges relating to the death of his best mate Corporal Stuart Jones.

Despite the court martial decision, he still suffered significant detriment in both his personal and professional life, the Army said in a statement posted on the Defence website.

Senator Lambie said he'd experienced extraordinary abuse which included being sent 28 autopsy photos of his best mate. He now suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Army said his continued army career included instances of treatment by other soldiers "not consistent with the outcome of the court martial or Army's values".

"Army regrets the detriment Mr Saltmarsh suffered as a result of any mistreatment by some individual Army members, which is not in any way condoned by Army," it said.

This all stemmed from an incident in East Timor in August 2000 when Trooper Saltmarsh and other soldiers boarded an armoured vehicle at the conclusion of a patrol. He placed two weapons on top of ration boxes and as the vehicle moved away, Trooper Saltmarsh's weapon fired, fatally wounding Corporal Jones.

Following a board of inquiry, he faced a court martial. It concluded that there was no evidence as to how the weapon fired and he had no case to answer.

He always insisted the weapon was faulty as there had been numerous cases in East Timor of Steyr rifles inadvertently firing.

The Army said it was to his great credit, that he had persevered with his Army career, attending and graduating from the Royal Military College Duntroon. Mr Saltmarsh left the Army with the rank of lieutenant.

"Army sincerely thanks Mr Saltmarsh for his service," it said.

Source: AAP

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