A United States Marine Corps helicopter crew chief has accused Australian special forces of shooting dead one of seven bound Afghan prisoners because there was only space for six on the US aircraft due to collect them.

The chief, “Josh”, flew 159 combat missions for the Marine Corps’ Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469.

He told Australia’s ABC Investigations he was a door gunner providing aerial covering fire for the Australian soldiers of the 2nd Commando Regiment during a night raid in mid-2012, north of his squadron’s base in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province.

The raid was part of a broader joint Australian special forces-US Drug Enforcement Administration campaign targetting drug operations financing the Taliban.

Josh told the ABC: “We just watched them tackle and hogtie these guys and we knew their hands were tied behind their backs”.

He said the Australian commandos then called for the US aircraft to pick them and seven prisoners up.

“The pilot said, ‘That’s too many people, we can’t carry that many passengers.’ And you just heard this silence and then we heard a pop. And then they said, ‘OK, we have six prisoners’.”

The USMC chief said it was “apparent to everybody involved in that mission that they had just killed a prisoner that we had just watched them catch and hogtie”.

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