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Hughes death: Army accused of 'camouflaging'

Wed 8 May 2013 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback View at NDHA

Corporal Douglas Hughes The family of Corporal Douglas Hughes has ramped up its calls for an independent inquiry into his suicide, saying they believe it wasn’t his sexuality that led to his death, but the way the Army dealt with his sexuality. Hughes took his own life in Afghanistan after he confessed to a superior that he had feelings for a fellow soldier. The sergeant arranged a meeting between the two men, where Hughes tearfully admitted his feelings. He was rejeceted, and later took his own life. His uncle Mike Poa and mother Venus Poa have spoken to Maori Television’s Native Affairs. They say more than a year after his death, they have not been able to move on with their lives, and feel no closer to understanding why he died. Watch No Ordinary Son Part One here Watch No Ordinary Son Part Two here They don’t believe it was his sexuality which led to his death, but the way the Army handled his sexuality. “I honestly believe that the military used that as a basis, thinking the family would be too proud, they’d want to take this out,” former staff sergeant Mike Poa told Native Affairs. “Nonsense. I’m still proud of my nephew. I don’t give a toss. We still want the truth.” Venus Poa said she never ‘saw’ her son as being gay, but points out: “it’s not a crime. If he was, I still love my son. I still love my son if he was. But I don’t believe he took his life because of that.” Mike Poa said his nephew was a strong leader who may have been ostracised by those around him for being gay. He believes Hughes didn’t get the help and guidance he needed, and the whole situation has been ‘camouflaged’. “I’m bitter, I’m really, deep inside, I’m bitter about it,” he said, adding “The Army I believe have a lot of bully tactics going on behind the scenes,that we don’t know about.” Venus Poa added she believes the sergeant should have taken the situation to higher-ranking staff. “All I want is the truth,” she said. “I want to talk to those witnesses they have that are in the Army report. More so the sergeant and soldier that was with my son.” The family has appealed to the Solicitor-General for an inquiry, after Coroner Gordon Matenga ruled a full Coronial Inquiry was not needed. The Defence Force’s own inquiry has been suppressed, however many of the details have been revealed by media advocating for an independent inquiry.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Wednesday, 8th May 2013 - 2:28pm

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