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Jun 05, 2008 at 09:16am IST

Starlet Tania wins apology from Oz

New Delhi: Australian entertainer turned Bollywood starlet Tania Zaetta has won an apology from the Australian military over allegations that she had sex with Aussie soldiers during a goodwill tour of Afghanistan.

Zaetta had denied the allegation and threatened to sue the defence department and the tabloid that carried the report. "When things like this get into countries like that (India) it's not taken lightly. Sex scandals - rumoured, alleged, bad Chinese whispers, whatever it is - aren't taken lightly in a country like that,” she said.

Now, Australian Defence chiefs say the Army mismanaged the affair. An internal probe by the Defence forces has found the report to be false.

STAR BITES DUST: Zaetta had denied the allegation and threatened to sue the tabloid.

The story

The international media was quick to pick up this sleazy story of sex and scandal from a report in the national tabloid.

In an interview with Nine Network's Today programme, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said: "She's of course entitled to her legal rights and she should prosecute those based on the advice that she receives. I won't comment on that... there's a full defence investigation under way in relation to two matters - what transpired there (Afghanistan), and secondly, on the question of the actual handling of this document."

Zaetta was named in a confidential briefing paper - officially referred to as a "Hot Issues Brief" - to Australia's Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon as having slept with special forces soldiers last month at a military base in Tarin Kowt, the capital of Oruzgan province in Afghanistan.

Defence spokesman Brigadier Andrew Nikolic said: "We apologise unreservedly to those named. We have called on News Limited to assist our enquiries by returning any material they have obtained.

"An initial document, prepared internally to brief the minister, did contain the names but was withdrawn within minutes because of privacy concerns. Importantly, the final version of the document did not include names."

The Department of Defence is currently inquiring into a number of matters, including the allegation of inappropriate behaviour, privacy concerns, and the unauthorised disclosure.

"I have seen those reports and as I understand it these matters are under investigation within the defence department and I will leave it for that investigation to reach its own conclusions", Rudd told newspersons in Adelaide Friday.

Zaetta co-hosted the 1990s television show Who Dares Wins and has appeared on Baywatch and Mission Implausible, a British pay-TV show.

(With IANS inputs)

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