Thursday, August 25, 2005

First US soldier convicted of abuse in Afganistan

A soldier from a US military intelligence unit has been sentenced to two months in prison for abusing an Afghan detainee who later died.
It is the first custodial sentence given to any US soldier convicted of abuse in Afghanistan since 2001


US-based human rights group has condemned the sentence as too lenient.
The US has been under intense pressure for several months following allegations of abuse by its forces in US-run detention centres.
Specialist Glendale Wells pleaded guilty at a military court of pushing a detainee known as Dilawar against a wall.
He also admitted doing nothing to prevent other soldiers at the US base at Bagram from abusing him.

In December 2002, Dilawar died at the base - after suffering what an internal US investigation revealed were repeated beatings by American troops while chained to the ceiling by his wrists.

The punishment did not match the gravity of the crimes, said John Sifton, Human Rights Watch's lead researcher on Afghanistan.

He said it was another sign of what he called the US military's consistent failure to take abuse allegations seriously.

"These accused soldiers and their superiors were involved in numerous abuses and two detainee deaths," he said. "Yet all the officers so far have escaped punishment."

In May the deaths of Dilawar and another inmate, along with other allegations of abuse, were detailed by the New York Times, citing a 2,000-page document leaked from a US army investigation.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he was shocked and demanded action from the US.

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