Polish soldiers charged with murdering Afghans kept in jail
Tue Feb 12, 11:24 PM ET
WARSAW (AFP) – Polish military judges decided Tuesday to extend the pre-trial detentions of seven soldiers charged in the murders civilians in Afghanistan during an incident in August.
According to the judges’ ruling, the “evidence gathered indicates that it is highly likely that the acts for which they have been charged took place.”
Six soldiers, charged in November in connection with shootings in a village in the eastern part of the country, face up to life in prison if found guilty of the killings of six civilians, including women and children.
A seventh soldier, charged with the lesser offence of opening fire on a civilian target, was also ordered held in custody faces up to five years in prison.
According to an initial Polish defence ministry statement, several Afghan civilians were killed in the village of Nangar Khel in eastern Wazi-Khwa region on August 16 when Polish troops returned fire after being ambushed.
But the Polish military prosecutor’s office has said the shootings in fact took place several hours after the ambush.
Poland has 1,200 troops serving with NATO’s 36,000-strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which is battling a Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan.
The shootings in Wazi-Khwa region came two days after a Polish soldier had been killed by the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan, in what was the first fatality for Poland since it joined the NATO-led force in March 2002.