Aussies dismiss Afghan abuse charges
Press TV (Iran)
Fri, 29 Aug 2008 21:38:42 GMT
The Australian military investigators have cleared its combat troops of beating or humiliating prisoners detained in war-torn Afghanistan.
The inquiry by Colonel David Connery, in a report released Friday, found that medical evidence and witness statements did not support the allegations.” Based on the evidence available to me I do not believe any of the detainees were beaten up, stripped naked or mistreated by the Australian FE (force element) on April 29-30, 2008.”
He added while the men may have been “manhandled” during detention and tactical questioning, the lack of significant physical injuries led him to conclude that the force used against each detainee was “reasonable and humane.”
The accusations related to the treatment of four suspected insurgents, including a 70-year-old man and a 25-year-old with only one leg, who were held in the southern province of Uruzgan following a battle with Taliban fighters.
Among the complaints leveled against the Australian troops were that the detainees were “stripped naked, beaten and mistreated” and that they had been subjected to “too rough” handling.
The Australian Defense Force was forced to investigate the claims after an Afghan army officer objected to the treatment of the prisoners and complained to a senior Afghan national army commander. The young officer had seen a an old man, who was not wearing trousers when captured, and a disabled man being detained and secured overnight in walled pens.
Australia has about 1,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Earlier, the Australian military had cleared its troops of any wrongdoing in a battle in Afghanistan last November during which two women and a baby were killed.
The report is bound to worsen relations between the Afghan government and the US alliance forces stationed in the country, analysts say.
The report also came after the Afghan government said on Monday it would renegotiate the terms of US-led troops in the country following hundreds of reports of civilian deaths by torture.The cabinet is also demanding US-led troops halt air strikes on civilians, illegal detentions and unilateral house searches.
According to an official count some 3,200 people have been killed in the violence-wracked country so far this year, most of them civilians.