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Danes Probe Report of Prisoner Abuse

June 11, 2004|From Associated Press

COPENHAGEN — Denmark said Thursday that it has opened an investigation into claims by an interpreter for Danish and U.S. troops in Afghanistan that he witnessed incidents of torture and the killing of prisoners in American custody two years ago.

Denmark's military prosecutors will determine whether the claims can be substantiated, said Cmdr. Torben Martinsen, a spokesman for Defense Command Denmark, the country's top military authority.

Martinsen refused to release details about the Danish interpreter's claims, including the number of alleged victims. The man was not identified by name, and it was not known whether he was a military man or a civilian working with the 100 Danish soldiers deployed in Afghanistan in 2002.

The allegation came days after the U.S. ordered a review of its military's handling of prisoners in Afghanistan. The scandal over abuse of Iraqi prisoners has drawn new attention to allegations of mistreatment in Afghanistan, including the deaths of three prisoners in custody.

The interpreter worked in Kandahar, the main U.S. military base in southern Afghanistan, where he "assisted the Americans' questioning of prisoners," Danish Defense Minister Soeren Gade said.

The U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen declined to comment.

In May, a Danish medic working in Iraq alleged that in September 2003 British troops had beaten two Iraqis during a field interrogation, including one who reportedly died.

Gade said Britain's Royal Military Police would send an investigator to Denmark to gather information for a British investigation. Denmark's nearly 500 troops in southern Iraq are under British command.

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