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Abuse Charges Urged Against 26

The recommendation is the result of an inquiry in the deaths of two detainees who were held by American forces in Afghanistan.

September 01, 2004|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

WASHINGTON — Investigators have recommended that 26 soldiers face charges in an inquiry in abuses in Afghanistan that included the deaths of two detainees, Pentagon officials said.

Charges against individual soldiers in the nearly 2-year-old cases from the U.S. Bagram air base could be as serious as negligent homicide or as limited as failure to report an offense.

Most of the soldiers facing charges are with the Ft. Bragg, N.C.-based 519th Military Intelligence Battalion and the 377th Military Police Company, an Army reserve unit based in Cincinnati, said the Washington Post, which first reported the recommendation for charges against 26 troops.

The Army expects to begin filing charges in two to three weeks, the newspaper said.

The recommendation came after a lengthy investigation into the two deaths, both of which had already been ruled homicides by a military coroner.

On Dec. 3, 2002, Habib Ullah died of a blood clot caused by a blunt-force injury at Bagram. A week later, an Afghan whose last name was Dilawar died at the base of blunt-force injuries that complicated his coronary artery disease, according to the men's death certificates.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said this year that U.S. troops in Afghanistan used excessive force during arrests, mistreated prisoners and committed other human rights abuses. The group's report said the actions called into question the military's "commitment to upholding basic rights."

At the time, Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, spokesman for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, said, "Our combat operations comply with the law."

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