Aussie troops face Dubai punishment for drinking
Fri, 13 Jan 2012 6:20p.m.
By Samantha Hayes
Eight Australian soldiers on their way home from a tour of duty in Afghanistan have been sent back to await punishment after they were caught drinking in Dubai.
The front line personnel broke defence force rules but their heartbroken families say they are the ones being punished.
The soldiers have spent the past nine months in hostile combat conditions.
They were homeward bound when they got busted and they are now back in Tarin Kot, charged with misbehaviour.
A relative to one of the soldiers, Steven Weight, says the men cannot be blamed for having a couple of drinks, “because of what they've been through on their active service”.
Their families were called and told they were not coming home.
"He [the father] was actually in tears when he called his wife up, and he's the sort of guy who she's never seen him cry before,” says Mr Weight.
Public intoxication is illegal in Muslim Dubai, although no local authorities were involved in this incident.
"They've sat down amongst themselves and had a dinner, had a few drinks. A couple of officers have seen them have a few, what they thought was too many,” says Mr Weight.
They knew it was against the rules, having recently been reminded, but these soldiers were battle weary. Their unit lost a man in August, Private Matthew Lambert, who was killed by a roadside bomb.
The Returned Services League says it is understandable the men wanted to blow off some steam and they could have been punished once home in Australia. The families say it is not fair they are now being punished.
"A couple of these families were booked in for international holidays, so they've lost them,” says Mr Weight. “One family was ready to sign a contract on a house, now he can't get back to sign that contract, they may lose that."
The men are confined to base and are awaiting punishment.
The defence force could not confirm when they will be allowed home but a family member said it could be as early as Sunday.
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14/01/2012 11:24:41 p.m.
Robert W wrote:
My God this is unbelievable, whats wrong with the Aussie Military. We were all young once and in the military. These boys should have been allowed to return home and then dealt with there once they're home. Maybe theres more to the story regarding their behavior?
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