Afghan interpreter criticises NZ Defence Force - report

Last updated 08:45 13/12/2012

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An Afghan interpreter injured in an attack which killed a New Zealand soldier says the Defence Force neglected him by not providing appropriate medical treatment for his injuries.

The interpreter was hurt in an August 2010 attack which killed Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell, 28, and injured two other Kiwi soldiers.

Interpreters are employed by the Defence Force's Provincial Reconstruction Team.

The interpreter, who does not want to be named, was part of a three-vehicle patrol that was attacked with explosives, rocket propelled grenades and gunfire in north-east Bamiyan Province on August 4, 2010.

He said he received inadequate treatment for his injuries and fled to a German refugee camp for his safety, Radio New Zealand reported.

He received no further help for serious head injuries after he was discharged from a military hospital in Bagram, New Zealand investigative journalist Jon Stephenson told RNZ.

"He left the PRT because he was disappointed they were not giving him the medical treatment that he needed in terms of post traumatic stress disorder so he's gone to Turkey to seek medical treatment then fled to Germany because he feared for his life," Stephenson said.

The Defence Force yesterday extended its resettlement package to 10 more interpreters after earlier offering it to 23 interpreters currently employed by the PRT.

About 116 people, including the interpreters and their dependents, are eligible for the package, which would see them resettle in New Zealand.

Interpreters working for the PRT have spoken about their fear of being captured, tortured and killed by insurgent forces for helping New Zealand forces after our soldiers leave in April next year.

Those offered the package were viewed as being the most at risk, Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman said yesterday.

The offer was only extended to interpreters who have been employed by the PRT since December, 2010, which means it is unlikely that the interpreter claiming medical mistreatment would be eligible.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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